BBC Wales boss Rhodri Talfan Davies has emerged as the leading candidate for the top job of heading up all of the Corporation’s TV and radio content, RadioTimes.com can reveal.
According to senior Corporation sources, director general Tony Hall has considered a number of candidates for the proposed new job which is likely to be named later this month as part of his ongoing reorganisation of the Corporation, key details of which were revealed by RadioTimes.com last February.
Under the current plans, the BBC is expected to be reorganised into three divisions – Educate, Inform and Entertain.
All three divisions are expected to report a content director and Hall is understood to be wooing a number of high profile names for the jobs.
According to sources, Hall has held talks with former BBC2 controller Michael Jackson and former Endemol Shine exectuive Tim Hincks – who oversaw hit shows such as Big Brother. Jackson is understood to have turned the job down while the discussions with Hincks did not reach a decision.
Now the leading candidate for the post is Talfan Davies, a popular executive in Cardiff.
“Tony wanted a top flight external candidate for the role but he has now accepted that this is not likely given how much the BBC is getting squeezed these days,” said a source. “In many ways Rhodri is the ultimate BBC apparatchik and a safe pair of hands.”
The new structure will represent the most radical shake-up of the way the BBC is organised in its 93-year history.
Under Hall’s current plans, the BBC departments will be reorganised down genre lines by abolishing the broadcaster’s radio and television channel divisions and implementing a genre-based commissioning structure. As it stands, there will be three massive ‘super-departments’, BBC Entertain, BBC Inform and BBC Educate.
The planned restructure was expected at Easter but has been redrawn a number of times, according to insiders.
BBC Entertain is expected to comprise TV entertainment and Radio 2. It will also include a sub division called BBC Youth which currently features a suggested tie-in between BBC3 and Radio 1.
BBC Inform will take in all the BBC news departments and radio stations including Five Live. BBC Educate is expected to cover Radio 4 and the documentary departments, although none of these demarcations are yet set in stone.
Current favourites to take the jobs include BBC director of strategy and digital James Purnell, who is expected to run BBC Educate, and director of news and current affairs James Harding who is the favoured candidate to run BBC Inform.
Acting director of television Charlotte Moore is thought to be the front-runner to head up BBC Entertain.
Talfan Davies was appointed Director of BBC Cymru Wales in July 2011, taking up the post in September 2011. He is a member of the BBC’s Management Board chaired by Tony Hall and takes a salary of £160,000.
Previously he was Head of Strategy and Communications at BBC Wales and was responsible for the strategic development of BBC Cymru Wales’s portfolio of services – across television, radio and online – as well as running the organisation’s marketing, communications and audience research activity.
In 2011, he led a strategic review of the BBC’s digital services as part of the ‘Delivering Quality First’ initiative set up to assess the editorial implications of the 2010 Licence Fee settlement.
The executive, who began his career as a sub-editor with the Western Mail newspaper, joined BBC Wales in July 2006 from ntl: Telewest (now known as Virgin Media), where he was the Director of Television Marketing.
Hall is expected to deliver his wholesale reform of the entire organisation this month, according to senior sources, with May 23 pencilled in as the likely date.
The Government has still not published its White Paper on the future of the BBC and Hall is understood to be planning to announce the changes after that, when the terms of the BBC’s new deal are clearer. The White Paper is likely to be published around May 12.
Sticking points are said to include objections from some senior staff to their new roles and also uncertainty surrounding the future of the organisation before the Government decides on the BBC’s scale and scope for the next Charter period.
The BBC declined to comment.
A spokesman said: “It is a bit early to be speculating about jobs and posts when we haven’t set out any further changes to the BBC.”