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Keating leaves BBC

May 10, 2012

By Colin Mann

Roly Keating, currently Director of Archive Content at the BBC, and a former Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, is to leave the broadcaster to take up a new position as Chief Executive Officer at the British Library Board. Keating will take up his new role on 12 September 2012

Baroness Blackstone, Chairman of the British Library, said that Keating had a wide experience and a deep commitment to the digital information environment, and was the ideal person to build on the successes of the British Library and to ensure that the Library continues to be a leading-edge provider of knowledge.

Mark Thompson, Director-General, BBC said that during 29 years at the BBC, Keating had proved himself to be one of the corporation’s greatest cultural heavyweights. “Beginning with his work on Omnibus and Arena and then as a founder producer on The Late Show before moving on to run BBC Four and BBC Two, Roly has always had a keen understanding of the BBC ethos of making the good popular and the popular good. His most recent role as Director of Archive has enabled him to start the vital work of opening up the BBC’s archive making it accessible to audiences across the world. We are hugely grateful for everything he has done for the BBC and we are delighted that he will now be going on to run another of the UK’s most valuable cultural institutions, the British Library. We wish him every success for the future.”

Keating joined the BBC as a general trainee in 1983. As a producer and director in Music and Arts, he made films for Omnibus, Bookmark and Arena. He was a founder producer and subsequently editor of the long-running arts and media magazine The Late Show and was also editor of the literary series Bookmark.

In 1997, he became Head of Programming for UKTV, overseeing the launch of the BBC’s joint venture channels with Flextech, including UK Style, UK Horizons and the re-launched UK Gold.

In 1999 he was made BBC Controller of Digital Channels, with overall editorial responsibility for BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge, as well as UKTV and BBC Prime. The following year he became Controller of Arts Commissioning, with responsibility for music and arts programming across BBC Television, before moving to BBC Four in December 2001.

As Controller of BBC Four, Keating led the launch of the channel in March 2002, and in 2003, he was seconded for six months to act as joint leader of the BBC’s Charter Review project.

From 2004 to 2008, Roly was Controller of BBC Two. From October 2007 to May 2008 he combined his job on BBC Two with the role of Acting Controller, BBC One.

In his current role as Director of Archive Content, Keating acts as overall editorial leader for the BBC’s online services, including BBC iPlayer. This role is also responsible for the development and implementation of the BBC’s strategy to increase digital access to its massive archives, including the new Arts Council England partnership The Space and the proposed download-to-own initiative Project Barcelona.

Thompson is himself leaving the BBC at the conclusion of the Olympics summer. Keating’s name has not been suggested as a likely replacement, with current Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards and BBC Vision Director George Entwistle the frontrunners.

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