Barbara Slater (sports producer)

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Barbara Slater at the Nations & Regions Media Conference in 2012

Barbara Jane Slater OBE (10 May 1959) in Birmingham, England)[1] was a sports producer and former gymnast. Slater became the BBC's first female Director of Sport in April 2009. Previous to this, she had been Head of Production and Head of General sports for a number of years.[2]

Slater was born into a sporting family: her father, Bill, was a professional footballer who played for England, won the Footballer of the Year award in 1960, and won three Football League titles with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Her uncle, J J Warr, played for the England cricket team. Slater gained two degrees, at the universities of Birmingham and Oxford, before qualifying to be a PE teacher at Loughborough, one of the most prestigious sporting institutions in the country. Slater appeared in the gymnastics competition at the 1976 Summer Olympics, carrying the British flag at the opening ceremony, and eventually earned 20 caps as an international gymnast. As a gymnast, she finished runner-up in the British Championships in the same year as her appearance at the Olympics.[1] In other sporting achievements, she reached national standard at diving and was a club-level squash player.[2]

Slater was first employed by the BBC in 1983, when she became a trainee Assistant Producer. She had previous experience in the TV industry starring in the 1978 TV thriller show "Out of Bounds" before working for ATV Sport, a company run by her father's colleague Billy Wright.[3] In 1984 she joined the BBC's sports division as an Assistant Producer. Slater worked her way up the corporation's hierarchy as a Producer, Senior Producer, and Executive Producer.[2] She eventually became head of sports production, and helped produce programmes for events such as The Open and Masters golf, the Commonwealth Games, the Grand National, Ascot and the Derby.[4] In 2009, it was announced that she would become director of sport, taking over from Roger Mosey, and becoming the first woman to hold the position.[5] Mosey became the BBC Director of London 2012.[6] Slater has overseen the department's relocation to Salford[7] (BBC Sport is one of five departments that has been moved from London to Salford),[8] as well as the 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London. She has also presided over events such as the 2010 World Cup and 2010 Winter Olympics.[4] Barbara also, in 2013 won back the broadcasting rights of the FA Cup, in a major coup, ensuring live first-class football was available to licence fee payers. Speaking of her appointment, she said "I am thrilled to have this opportunity to lead BBC Sport at such an exciting and challenging time, that includes leading the division to its new home at the heart of BBC North and also ensuring BBC Sport plays its part in making the 2012 Games the success they deserve to be."[4]

During her time as Director of Sport though Slater has overseen the loss of many exclusive BBC Sport deals most notably that of full-time Formula One coverage from free to air broadcasting to a shared arrangement with Sky Sports lasting 2012 to 2015 with the BBC showing half the races live and the rest with highlights. The deal allowed Sky Sports to show every race live. Further scrutiny was shown with the BBC portion of a 2012-2018 deal being sold to Channel 4 for the 2016 to 2018 seasons to make savings. This is in addition the Grand National which saw Channel 4 gain the rights in March 2012; further dilution of the BBC sports portfolio (together with the loss of advert-free coverage) was announced by Barbara Slater in the guise of a sharing arrangement with ITV;[9] and in September 2015 she announced the imminent loss of yet more live coverage, this time of The Open Championship.[10]

Slater was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to sports broadcasting.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Olympics: Barbara Slater". Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Press Office, Biographies: Barbara Slater". BBC. June 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  3. ^ Sale, Charles (25 February 2009). "TV sports all-rounder Slater set to lead Beeb's move north". London: The Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Leigh Holmwood (26 February 2009). "BBC names Barbara Slater first female director of sport". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  5. ^ "BBC appoints first female director of sport". London: The Daily Telegraph. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  6. ^ "Barbara Slater is BBC Sport director". Team. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  7. ^ Angus Howarth (26 February 2009). "BBC scores a first as woman is named director of sport". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  8. ^ "BBC Salford move gets green light". BBC. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  9. ^ "Six Nations: BBC & ITV to share broadcast rights from 2016". BBC. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  10. ^ "BBC coverage of The Open Championship". BBC. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b15.