Greg Dyke (2011)
20 May 1947 |
Hayes, Hillingdon, London, United Kingdom
|Occupation||Journalist, broadcaster, executive director|
|Title||Chairman of Brentford Football Club
Chairman of the British Film Institute
Chairman of HiT Entertainment
Chancellor of the University of York
(BFI) Anthony Minghella(York) Dame Janet Baker
Gregory "Greg" Dyke (born 20 May 1947) is a British media executive, journalist and broadcaster. Since the 1960s, Dyke has a long career in the UK in print and then broadcast journalism. He is credited with introducing 'tabloid' television to British broadcasting, and reviving the ratings of TV-am. In the 1990s, he held Chief Executive positions at LWT Group, Pearson Television and Channel 5.
He is most notable for his tenure as Director-General of the BBC from January 2000 until 29 January 2004, a position from which he resigned following heavy criticism of the BBC's news reporting process in the Hutton Inquiry. He is the chairman of children's television company HiT Entertainment and has been Chancellor of the University of York since 2004.
Early years and education
Dyke was born in 1947, in Hayes, Hillingdon, West London, the youngest of three sons in a "stable, lower middle class" family. His father was an insurance office manager. The family lived at 17 Cerne Close until he was 9, then moved to Cedars Drive, Hillingdon. He was educated at Yeading Primary School and then Hayes Grammar School, which he left with one grade "E" at A-level mathematics. After school he was briefly a trainee manager at Marks & Spencer before leaving to work as a trainee reporter for the Hillingdon Mirror, becoming chief reporter in eight months. He left the Mirror after attempting to stage a union-backed protest against poor pay conditions by the junior staff of the work on the paper. He then got a job at the Slough Evening Mail. Amongst his colleagues was future music journalist Colin Irwin.
He then went on to study for a degree at the University of York as a mature student, graduating in 1974 with a BA in politics. During his time at York, Dyke was active in student politics, and was part of a collective that produced a psychedelic underground student magazine called Nouse. He also met and married his first wife whilst at the university. As he was a mature student with work experience his politics were more of a traditional Labour supporter than some of more radical far left students. Contemporaries and friends at York included the future journalists Linda Grant and Peter Hitchens, the latter then a prominent member of the International Socialists. Dyke was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University in 1999 and has been Chancellor since 2004.
Break into television: LWT and TV-AM
After university, Dyke followed his first wife to Newcastle. He had become disillusioned with newspaper journalism, and tried for a job as a junior reporter at BBC Radio Teesside. He was unsuccessful, apparently because the interviewers felt no-one would understand his accent. Dyke instead found work covering rural affairs for the Newcastle Journal. He moved back to London with Christine in 1974 to become was also campaign officer for the Wandsworth Community Relations Council. He hated the job and left to campaign to be elected GLC councillor for Putney. Again he was unsuccessful.
He was given assistance getting a job at London Weekend Television (LWT) by fellow ex-Newcastle journalist Nicholas Evans, who was at the time working on Weekend World. Dyke got a junior position on LWT's local politics programme, in the current affairs department. His bosses there were John Birt and Peter Jay. He attracted attention for trying to give the programmes he worked on a more populist edge. This led to him being given the chance to launch a new early evening current affairs topical news programme. This became The Six O'Clock Show, fronted by Michael Aspel, with co-hosts Danny Baker and Janet Street-Porter. The show is seen by many as the first example of British tabloid TV.
After the success of The Six O' Clock Show, Dyke was brought in by Jonathan Aitken to become programme director at ailing station TV-am in 1983. The station was doing very badly in the ratings compared to the BBC's popular Breakfast Time magazine style programme. He was instrumental in reviving the breakfast show's fortunes by introducing a new schedule based around bingo, celebrity gossip and horoscopes. The introduction of Roland Rat, a hand puppet created by Anne Wood, attracted large numbers of younger viewers to the show, boosting ratings. Because of this Dyke has often been accused of contributing to the "dumbing down" of television. Following TV-am, Dyke became Director of Programmes for TVS, and later returned to LWT, making a fortune when Granada bought out the firm. Stints at Pearson Television and Channel 5 followed. He was among the consortium that successfully bid for the Channel 5 licence in 1995 and became the first chairman of the new channel.
At the BBC
In 2000, he took over the helm of the BBC from John Birt. At the beginning of his tenure, he famously promised to "cut the crap" at the Corporation. The "crap" he referred to was the complex internal market Birt had introduced at the BBC which, it is claimed, turned employees away from making programmes and into managers. Dyke reversed this trend – he reduced administration costs from 24% of total income to 15%. Unusually for a recent Director-General, he had a good rapport with his employees and was popular with the majority of BBC staff, his management style being seen as more open and risk-taking than Birt's.
Jonathan Gifford, who worked for BBC Magazines in BBC Worldwide during the management of Birt and Dyke, observed "Dyke came across well. He was direct, sensible and approachable. His vision for the BBC was inspirational." Martin Montague, a producer on digital radio station BBC7 said "I know that people in local radio think he walks on water because of all that he's put into that."
Apart from restoring staff morale, Greg Dyke laid claim to two major achievements during his office. In 2002, he introduced the Freeview terrestrial digital transmission platform with six additional BBC channels, and persuaded Sky TV to join the consortium. Previously this was an ITV subscription service that had closed with major losses, but by mid-2007 it could be seen by more than half the population. After leaving the BBC, he said that he always realised that the introduction of Freeview helped to prevent a subscription funding model for the BBC gain traction, because it is impossible for broadcasters to switch off the signal to individual Freeview boxes.
Dyke controversially described the Corporation in early 2001 as "hideously white", based on statistics that showed the organisation's management structure was 98% white. Dyke said that "The figures we have at the moment suggest that quite a lot of people from different ethnic backgrounds that we do attract to the BBC leave. Maybe they don't feel at home, maybe they don't feel welcome." Dyke set a target that by 2003, 10% of the BBC's UK workforce and 4% of management would be from ethnic minority backgrounds. In September 2004, Dyke received an award for his remarks from Glasgow-based organisation Empower Scotland, which fights against workplace racism.
Dyke attracted criticsm when he "forgot" to sell an equity stake in Granada Television, which presented a conflict of interest in his new position. He also caused controversy when he lost the rights to Premier League football to ITV, then accused the league of fixing the auction. Others were worried that the openness and high risk strategies of his management style could backfire on the corporation. An ITV executive was quoted as saying, "By being too radical and playing fast and loose with the public service remit, the BBC is inviting external regulation – and it deserves it."
Hutton Report and resignation from BBC
Dyke resigned from the BBC on 29 January 2004 along with Gavyn Davies and Andrew Gilligan, after the publication of the Hutton Report. Hutton described Dyke's approach to checking news stories as "defective"; when Alastair Campbell complained about the story, Dyke had immediately defended it without investigating whether there was any merit to the complaint.
In an email sent to all BBC staff just prior to his resignation Dyke wrote:
|“||I accept that the BBC made errors of judgement and I've sadly come to the conclusion that it will be hard to draw a line under this whole affair while I am still here. We need closure. We need closure to protect the future of the BBC, not for you or me but for the benefit of everyone out there. It might sound pompous but I believe the BBC really matters.||”|
It was subsequently established that Dyke had offered his resignation to the BBC's Board of Governors while hoping that they would reject it. However, he was only able to secure the support of about one-third of the Governors. They voted 2–1 against him remaining. Some BBC staff felt that too much blame had been placed on their organisation in the wake of the David Kelly affair in the Hutton Report, and that the government was interfering in the BBC. Tim Gospill, spokesman for the National Union of Journalists said "Being independent doesn't just mean not having the government telling you what to do. It means you can criticise the government as well. I'm not at all sure the government understands that." Groups of staff staged walk outs from Broadcasting House and other BBC offices in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Cardiff and Londonderry, in protest at Dyke's resignation. In addition, on 31 January 2004, BBC staff paid for a full-page advert in the Daily Telegraph to express their "dismay" over Dyke's departure. The fundraisers hoped to raise £10,000, a lot less than the market rate for a full page advert in a broadsheet newspaper. Reportedly they raised less than this amount, but were offered a deal by the Telegraph's advertising department which allowed the advert to be printed. It was signed by around 4,000 BBC employees; 10,000 (around a third of total BBC staff at the time) submitted their names for publication, but there was not sufficient space to include them all.
The statement in the advertisement read:
|“||Greg Dyke stood for brave, independent and rigorous BBC journalism that was fearless in its search for the truth. We are resolute that the BBC should not step back from its determination to investigate the facts in pursuit of the truth.
Through his passion and integrity Greg inspired us to make programmes of the highest quality and creativity. We are dismayed by Greg's departure, but we are determined to maintain his achievements and his vision for an independent organisation that serves the public above all else.
Speaking on GMTV on 30 January, Dyke himself questioned the conclusions of the report, saying "We were shocked it was so black and white [...] We knew mistakes had been made but we didn't believe they were only by us." He also claimed that Lord Hutton was "quite clearly wrong" on certain aspects of law relating to the case. On 11 January 2007, the BBC published minutes of its post Hutton board meetings. It was revealed that Dyke had claimed he had been "mistreated and wanted to be reinstated".
After the Hutton Enquiry
On 28 November 2003, Greg Dyke was formally appointed by the University of York as its new Chancellor, replacing Dame Janet Baker, who had served in the post since November 1991. There was some controversy regarding his appointment in the midst of the Iraq Dossier scandal. He officially took the post in August 2004. In this role, he is the honorific and ceremonial head of the University, as well as heading the University Development Board. He has also made a personal grant to the new Department of Theatre, Film and Television, to found the Greg Dyke Chair in Film and Television. On 6 February 2004, Dyke announced that he had signed a six-figure book contract with HarperCollins. The book ("Inside Story"), subsequently published in September 2004, goes into detail about Dyke's opinion on the relationship between the BBC and the British government, and of the Dr. David Kelly affair and Hutton Inquiry. In July 2004, Dyke was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Sunderland, Middlesex University and in 2006 from The University of Bedfordshire. He was appointed Chair of the British Film Institute on 15 February 2008, succeeding Anthony Minghella. On 10 March 2010, it was reported that he had been approached by Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny Lebedev to edit The Independent and The Independent on Sunday newspapers . In the wake of the News of The World hacking affair, Dyke frequently appeared in the media to comment on events. In April 2011, he said "I don't think the News of the World is a great contribution to British journalism. [...]They had obviously being playing fast and loose for a long time and are now getting their just deserts."
Dyke is the current non-executive Chairman of Brentford F.C., a position he has held since 20 January 2006. He was appointed as part of the club takeover by Bees United, the Brentford Supporters Trust. Dyke has jointly supported Manchester United and Brentford F.C. all his life. Dyke's elder brothers supported Tottenham, but he preferred to support Man Utd. He became involved with Brentford in his childhood when his brother was a junior there. Manager Bill Dodgin, Sr. tried to sign his brother, but their father would not agree to him committing to what he saw as an unlucrative career.
From 1997 to 1999, Dyke served on the board at Manchester United as a non-executive director, and was the sole board member to oppose a takeover bid from BSkyB, which was subsequently rejected by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. When he became Director General of the BBC he admitted a "potential conflict of interest" between his new post and his current non-executive directorship at Manchester United PLC. He resigned his position to avoid controversy. In a speech at the Manchester Evening News Business of the Year Awards, he said "it was seen as a conflict of interest to both buy and sell football rights. My kids have never forgiven me for joining the BBC because of that."
At Brentford, Dyke's focus was on budget constraints for the small club and the necessity to generate money from televised matches and other means. Under Dyke the club's performance was initially unsteady, with a few highlights but the club experiencing its worst run since the 1970s. On 28 January 2006, they beat Premier League strugglers Sunderland 2-1 in the 4th Round of the FA Cup, but lost 3–1 to another Premier League club Charlton Athletic (of which former BBC Chairman Michael Grade was non-executive Director) in the 5th Round. Dyke said of the draw "we'd have preferred to be at Old Trafford because it'd have got us a lot more money."
The club finished 3rd in the league that year and lost to Swansea City in the play-off semi-final. These initial slight successes preceded a spell of misfortune which saw Brentford lose 16 matches in a row and be relegated to Football League Two in 2007. Turnover of managers was fast, with Allen, Leroy Rosenior, Scott Fitzgerald, Alan Reeves, Barry Quin, Terry Butcher in the space of two years, before Butcher's assistant Andy Scott got the team back on track, winning the Coca-Cola League Two title on 25 April 2009 from Darlington.  However Scott could not continue the success and after a series of poor results he was sacked in February 2011. Dyke remained upbeat: ""We are slightly disappointed with this season, as we increased the playing budget," he said. "The highlight was getting to Wembley but we froze a little in the final. But we have a good team, no matter who the manager is. We are spending enough money and we should be getting to the play-offs." Dyke announced plans in 2010 for the club to move to a new ground, selling off the Griffin Park ground for residential housing to raise money. Dyke said: "Our aim is to move into a new stadium in Lionel Road and to move there as a club free of debt." Dyke is reportedly set to be named as chairman of the Football Association to replace David Bernstein in July 2013. In order to take up the role, he will need to stand down as Brentford chairman. The move is subject to FA council approval.  
Comments on News of the World phone hacking scandal
Dyke appeared on BBC2's Newsnight programme on 8 July 2011 alongside comedian Steve Coogan, where he confronted former News of the World deputy features editor Paul McMullen over his attitude to the events of the phone hacking scandal. Dyke told McMullen "You're [the tabloids] nothing to do with a free press, or a decent democracy". Distancing himself from McMullen he said "I've spent most of my life being a journalist, and I'm nothing to do with him, and neither are most other journalists." He continued "You could see there are occasionally, very occasionally, public interest cases but most of the time [it wouldn't make it less morally reprehensible]. These guys [tabloid journalists] just tapped anyone they could think of". He was also of the opinion stronger independent regulation of the press was needed, claiming that broadcast media had always more strictly regulated.
On 11 July 2011, Dyke wrote in the Financial Times that "from the moment it was revealed that the News of the World had hacked into Milly Dowler's phone, Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy the 60.9 per cent of British Sky Broadcasting that News Corp does not already own was all but over." He admitted, "for those of us who have been warning about the tactics used by the Murdoch operation for many years – Mr Murdoch once described me as 'an enemy' – the events of the past week have been sweet."
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In his early years, Dyke was an active supporter of the Labour Party and in 1977 he attempted to win a seat on the Greater London Council for Labour at Putney. Until 1999 he was considered "very much part of Tony Blair's New Britain", attending parties to celebrate Labour's 1997 election victory. In later years, he was a financial donor to the party, was asked to write a report on the future of the NHS. before leaving Labour prior to the 2005 General Election, in which he supported the Liberal Democrats.
On 20 April 2009, it was announced that he was to lead a review of the UK’s creative sector for the Conservative Party .
Dyke has been married twice. He met his first wife Christine Taylor at the University of York; they were married for most of the 1970s. He lives in Hampshire, near Stockbridge, with his second wife, Susan Howes, an ex-sociology teacher and probation officer. Susan is now a trustee of Safe Ground, a charity which works with young offenders. They have four children, who are in their 20s and 30s. The Dykes also own a house on the west coast of Cork, Ireland.
In popular culture
During his tenure at the BBC, he was regularly impersonated on the BBC television comedy series Dead Ringers. His role played by Phil Cornwell but his accent was a mimic of Michael Caine. The character would always introduce himself by saying "My name is Greg Dyke, and I am director general of the BBC". After Dyke's departure from the BBC, in the last sketch it was changed so that he was no longer director general.
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- Greg Dyke at the Internet Movie Database
- BBC apologises as Dyke quits from the BBC News
- Video of Installation of Greg Dyke as Chancellor of the University of York
- Video of York Student Television 2005 Greg Dyke Interview
- Greg Dyke debates Reality Television BAFTA Webcast, January 2008
- Picture of Greg Dyke at Haye County Grammar School, 1958
John Birt, Baron Birt
|Director-General of the BBC
2000 – January 2004
Mark Byford (Acting)
January 2004 – June 2004
|Chairman of the British Film Institute
Dame Janet Baker
|Chancellor of the University of York