Thursday 21 May 2020 1:22 pm

Amazon UK boss tipped as candidate for BBC director general role

Amazon’s UK chief is said to be one of the frontrunners to take over as director general of the BBC amid concerns the job hunt could be pushed back due to Covid-19.

Douglas Gurr, who has led the tech giant’s operations in the UK and Ireland since 2016, is one of four candidates on the broadcaster’s shortlist, the Guardian reported.

A spokesperson for Amazon said the company did not comment on “rumour and speculation”.

Read more: BBC Three could return as on-air channel after Normal People and Fleabag success

The other external candidate is Will Lewis, former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, while BBC Studios chief executive Tim Davie and the corporation’s head of content Charlotte Moore are also in the running.

The BBC is understood to have approached both Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon and ITV boss Carolyn McCall about the role, but neither name is on the shortlist.

The media rumour mill has been overdrive since the BBC’s shock announcement in January, when Tony Hall said he would stand down as director general this summer after seven years in the role.

But the public service broadcaster may now have to delay its search for Hall’s successor due to the coronavirus crisis.

The BBC is reportedly considering postponing interviews from early June until September, with the aim of placing the successful candidate by January.

Sources told the Guardian that the pandemic had impacted a number of potential applicants who felt unwilling to consider a move to the BBC while having to cut costs and furlough staff.

However, a BBC spokesperson denied that there were any discussions of a change to the timetable. “We’re happy with how the process is going,” the spokesperson said.

Hall’s departure comes at a crucial time for the BBC, which has been grappling with a decline in viewer figures, especially among young audiences, as well as political pressure over the licence fee system.

However, the Covid-19 crisis has since sparked fresh challenges for the future leader of the broadcaster.

While the BBC has enjoyed booming demand for its services since the start of the health crisis, it is also now battling a £125m hole in its finances on top of previously announced cost-cutting measures.

Read more: BBC Four faces closure as TV bosses battle £125m Covid-19 shortfall

In its annual report published yesterday the corporation said it was considering reestablishing BBC Three as a broadcast channel in a bid to capitalise on the success of shows such as Fleabag and Normal People, which have proved wildly popular with its key youth audience.

The broadcaster is reportedly also mulling the closure of BBC Four, its highbrow arts channel that has an annual budget of £44m, though it has denied that it has current plans to do so.