Francesca Unsworth

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Francesca Unsworth
Born 1957 (1957) (age 60)
Residence Marylebone, London
Alma mater University of Manchester
Employer BBC
Salary £183,000 (total remuneration £190,800)[1]
Title Director, World Service Group

Francesca Unsworth (born 1957) is a British journalist and media executive. She is currently director of the BBC World Service Group. Previously she was Acting Director of News at the BBC from November 2012 until August 2013 and a member of the BBC's executive board. In 2013 she was appointed Deputy Director of News and Current Affairs.[1]


She is from North Staffordshire and attended St Dominic's High School for Girls, an independent school.[1][2]

A graduate in Drama at the University of Manchester, Unsworth began her broadcasting career in local radio, working at BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio Bristol, before going on to become Producer of Radio 1's Newsbeat. In 1990 she moved to Radio 4 and was based in Washington as a radio producer for the network during the Gulf crisis of 1990–1991. She also worked as a producer on The World at One and PM while at Radio 4. She moved to the BBC's Newsgathering Department in 1993, where she had responsibility for UK domestic news, and was a producer and editor for the BBC One O'Clock News and the BBC Six O'Clock News. Unsworth was appointed Head of Newsgathering in January 2005.[3]

In December 2005 Unsworth appeared on the BBC's NewsWatch programme, facing accusations of double standards in BBC News reporting of racial crimes when white people were the victims. Complainants suggested the BBC buried stories such as the racist murder of Kriss Donald, with comparable murders involving black victims given twelve times more coverage and the opening of an arts centre in Gateshead reported in preference to Donald's murder. Unsworh admitted the case had not been covered sufficiently and that there had been space to do so.[4] However, Unsworth's department again failed to cover the case adequately the following year.[5][6] In 2011 BBC News was criticised for referring to looters in the 2011 London riots as "protesters", even two days into the violence.[7] In response to 62 complaints about the matter, Unsworth conceded that the BBC had been wrong to do so.[8]

In November 2012, Unsworth was appointed Acting Director of News after the then incumbent, Helen Boaden stepped aside while Nick Pollard prepared his report into the BBC's non-coverage of the (then alleged) sexual abuse perpetuated by Jimmy Savile.[9][10] She ceased this role in August 2013 and was appointed Deputy Director of News and Current Affairs.[1] In November 2013 Unsworth was replaced as Head of Newsgathering by Jonathan Munro.[11]

Unsworth was president of the Society of Editors between 2011 and 2012 and is a board member of the organisation[12][13][14] She is also a board member of the European Union's Erasmus Mundus programme.[15]

She lives in Marylebone, West London.[16]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "BBC - Francesca Unsworth, Director, BBC World Service Group and Deputy Director of News and Current Affairs - Inside the BBC". 
  2. ^ Toffs at the top | Press Gazette
  3. ^ "Profile: Francesca Unsworth". BBC News. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Presenter:Raymond Snoddy , Interviewee: Fran Unsworth (11 December 2005). "NewsWatch". NewsWatch. London, England. BBC. BBC 1, BBC News Channel. 
  5. ^ Presenter:Raymond Snoddy , Interviewee: Peter Horrocks (30 October 2006). "NewsWatch". NewsWatch. London, England. BBC. BBC 1, BBC News Channel. 
  6. ^ The BBC Trust (23 January 2008). "Editorial Standards Findings: Appeals to the Trust and other editorial standards matters considered by the Editorial Standards Committee" (PDF). Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "London riots: BBC criticised for branding thugs as 'protesters'". 
  8. ^ "BBC should have stopped calling rioters 'protesters' sooner, corp. admits". 
  9. ^ "BBC news executives 'step aside'". BBC News. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Fran Unsworth named new director of BBC News". Digital Spy. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "BBC - BBC News announces two new senior appointments - Media Centre". 
  12. ^ "Society of Editors, Fighting for media freedom". 
  13. ^ "Society of Editors 2012: Show goes on despite the notable absentees – Press Gazette". 
  14. ^ "Society of Editors, Fighting for media freedom". 
  15. ^
  16. ^ BBC staff handed Twitter ban: Acting news boss pleads with unhappy workers to stay silent over abuse row | Mail Online