Richard Ayre

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Richard James Ayre was a member of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. He is a former member for England of the OFCOM Content Board and chair of its Broadcast Review Committee. He was formerly a BBC journalist where he was Head of BBC Westminster (1989–93), Controller of Editorial Policy (1993–96) and Deputy Chief Executive of BBC News (1996–2000).


Ayre was educated at Hastings Grammar School, a former state grammar school (now known as Ark William Parker Academy), in the seaside town of Hastings in East Sussex, followed by University College at Durham University, during which time he was President of Durham Students' Union (1970—1971). His first journalistic scoop was witnessing an escape from Durham prison by John McVicar that he quickly reported in an interview with the BBC's Kate Adie, then a very junior local radio reporter. The incident is described in McVicar's biography McVicar by Himself.


Ayre began his professional career as a reporter in Northern Ireland. In 1988, the then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd banned Sinn Féin from the airwaves in response to Irish Republican Army bombing campaigns. It was seen by many as extremely damaging to freedom of speech and the press in Britain. When Ayre became Controller of Editorial Policy he took legal advice and was satisfied that the prohibition could not stop the use of actors' voices to replace the more cumbersome use of subtitling. [1] This is credited as having rendered the prohibition increasingly ridiculous. He also re-wrote the BBC's Producer Guidelines into the most comprehensive manual of programme making ethics, which became a model for many broadcasters worldwide. He established Britain's first bi-media (television and radio) centre at BBC Millbank, introducing the first digital editing to network journalism. In 1995, Ayre played a key part in steering the Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales to air - a decision which infuriated the BBC's then Chairman Marmaduke Hussey.[2]

In March 2010, the government announced that Ayre would join the BBC Trust - the governing body of the Corporation - replacing fellow journalist Richard Tait.[1]

Freedom of Information[edit]

Richard Ayre became a founder member of the board of the Food Standards Agency [4] which pioneered open access with web casts of board meetings and fully published documentation. He was Chair of Article 19 (2003-2005), and was Freedom of Information Adjudicator for the Law Society (2001-2015). [5] He led OFCOM's 2007 enquiry into abuse of premium rate telephone services in television programmes [6]. He conducted a review of broadcasting in Kuwait following the invasion by Iraq and following the allied invasion he chaired the Editorial Review Board for Al Mirbad - the first independent Iraqi-run radio and TV station [7].


  1. ^ BBC Trust (2010-03-18). "BBC Trust: Richard Ayre, Trustee". Retrieved 2017-05-22.

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