John Birt, Baron Birt

John Birt, Baron Birt (born 10 December 1944) is a British television executive and businessman. He is a former Director-General (1992–2000) of the BBC.

The Lord Birt
John, Lord Birt in 2019
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
11 February 2000
Life Peerage
Director-General of the BBC
In office
1992–2000
Preceded byMichael Checkland
Succeeded byGreg Dyke
Personal details
Born (1944-12-10) 10 December 1944 (age 77)
Liverpool, England
Political partyCrossbench
Spouse(s)(1) Jane Lake;
(2)
(m. 2006)
Children2
EducationSt Mary's College, Crosby
Alma materSt Catherine's College, Oxford

After a successful career in commercial television, initially at Granada Television and later at London Weekend Television, Birt was appointed Deputy Director-General of the BBC in 1987 for his expertise in current affairs. The forced departure of Director-General Alasdair Milne after pressure from the Thatcher government[1] required someone near the top, preferably from outside the BBC, with editorial and production experience (Milne had been summarily replaced by Michael Checkland, an accountant).

During his tenure as Director-General, Birt restructured the BBC, in the face of much internal opposition. However, others have credited him with saving the corporation from possible government privatisation, and say he prepared for the era of digital broadcasting. After leaving the BBC, Birt was Strategic Advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair from 2001 to 2005. He was appointed Chairman of CPA Global in 2015.


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