Johnston kidnapping ‘most difficult thing’ – Mark Thompson

THE kidnapping of Scots journalist, Alan Johnston, has been described by the outgoing director-general of the BBC as his “most difficult thing” during his eight years in the post.

Interviewed on the eve of his departure, on Andrew Marr Show yesterday (around the 21’30” mark), Mark Thompson was replying to a question about the hardest time of his tenure, Marr asking whether it was when comedian, Russell Brand, and broadcaster, Jonathan Ross, made prank calls to the actor, Andrew Sachs, which led to Brand quitting his Radio 2 show and Ross being suspended.

Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza five years ago and held for four months before being released.

Thompson described it as “by far the most difficult thing”. Today, George Entwistle starts his new job as DG.

During the interview, he also warned against future budget cuts, a current round in operation following the BBC and the Westminster Government agreeing two years ago a freeze on the TV licence fee. He  said there were some parts of the service where no further cuts could be made without it resulting in a loss in quality.

He also said that quality is going to be “one of the real discriminators” when it comes to people’s consumption of media.