Mark Byford set to leave the BBC

The BBC has announced the departure of deputy director general Mark Byford.

BBC North Director Peter Salmon – the man leading the move of 5 Live to Salford Quays – is also to step down from his position on the corporation's executive board, although he'll continue his current role.

A Radio Academy Fellow, Byford has been made redundant, with his post on the executive board not being replaced. He's been with the corporation for over 30 years.

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson made the announcement officially to staff in an email this morning. he wrote: "Mark has played a critical role in recent years as the leader of all journalism across the BBC and has been an outstanding deputy to me and member of the Executive Board. But as part of our commitment to spend as much of the licence fee as possible on content and services, we've been looking at management numbers and costs across the BBC, and that must include the most senior levels.

"We have concluded – and Mark fully accepts – that the work he has done to develop our journalism and editorial standards across the BBC has achieved the goals we set to such an extent that the role of Deputy Director-General can now end, that the post should close at the end of the current financial year, and that Mark himself should be made redundant."

Mr Byford will step down from the Executive Board at the end of March and will leave the BBC in early summer.

Paying tribute to Mr Byford's 32 years of continuous and distinguished service, Mr Thompson said: "Michael Grade once described Mark Byford as the 'conscience of the BBC'. Anyone who has worked with him – and there are thousands across the Corporation – will attest to his unfailing integrity and loyalty.

"He has always stood for the highest standards in journalism but also in all his doings at the BBC. But he has also played a central role over the years in modernising BBC journalism and grasping the promise of this new digital age. I have never had a closer or more supportive relationship with any colleague and cannot begin to express my personal sense of gratitude to Mark for his honesty, steadfastness and energy. I know many of you will feel the same."

In a separate note Mr Byford told BBC staff: "Obviously I will be very sad to leave this brilliant organisation that has been such a dominant part of my life for so long. But I know this decision is the right way forward. From a summer holiday job to head of all the BBC's journalism – I have been fortunate and blessed to have had such a wonderful career at the BBC. Today, I'd like to thank all my close friends and valued colleagues across the BBC for their friendship and support, and their inspiration, creativity and wisdom. I have learnt so much from so many. I feel privileged and proud to have been a part of the best broadcasting organisation in the world."

Mark joined the BBC in 1979, aged 20, as a "temporary holiday relief assistant" working as a researcher over the summer holiday in his local television newsroom in Leeds.


As part of the changes to slim down the top team at the BBC, Peter Salmon will no longer sit on the executive board.

The Director of BBC North has faced criticism over his plans not to relocate his family home to the North of England – even though he was urging other corporation staff to do just that for the move of several departments to Salford Quays. He later said he'd look to move permanently once his children have moved on to the next stage of their schooling.

We understand further changes will be made to the structure of the senior management team in the BBC as part of cost-cutting measures. Today it was announced Helen Boaden, Director of BBC News, would join the executive board to represent journalism from April 2011 when Mark Byford leaves.

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