Barbara Slater, the BBC’s director of sport, has announced her retirement and will step down from her role in the first half of next year.
Slater first joined the BBC in 1983, after transitioning away from her career as an Olympic gymnast. After working as head of sport production and head of general sports at the BBC, she assumed the director of sport role in 2009, becoming the first female in the position.
During her tenure, Slater helped deliver the BBC’s coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which is the most watched national TV event in UK history, drawing 51.9 million viewers throughout the event. She also oversaw the production of numerous men’s and women’s Fifa World Cups and Uefa European Championships, Wimbledon, rugby’s Six Nations and other Olympic Games.
Slater also played a key role in regaining the rights to the FA Cup and international cricket for the public service broadcaster (PSB). Under her leadership, the BBC increased its coverage of women’s sports, while BBC Sport has also expanded its digital operations significantly.
“A career in BBC Sport has been an absolute passion, never just a job,” Slater said. “Since joining in 1983 I’ve been privileged to have had such amazing opportunities and the delight of working with such talented colleagues and partners. There are a huge number of people to thank, and so many magical memories to reflect upon.
“From being in the director’s chair for occasions like Pete Sampras’ seventh Wimbledon triumph, to leading the move to Salford, seeing the extraordinary growth of our digital services and new talent excel. I also hope that in showcasing the brilliance of women’s sport the BBC has played its part in changing attitudes, increasing its profile and inspiring the next generation.
“I must also make special mention of the Olympic Games having been a competitor in 1976 and then leading the sport teams covering a home Games in 2012. It was a monumental achievement for the BBC and everyone involved, as the UK hosted a sensational Olympics in London. I will be following the BBC’s coverage of Paris next summer – this time as a proud sports fan.”
Slater will depart from the BBC having ensured the PSB will continue to show Wimbledon up to and including 2027, the Uefa men’s European Championships in 2028 and the Olympics up to 2032. The broadcaster will also show highlights from the Uefa Champions League starting next season, following a deal agreed last year.
“Barbara has had an extraordinary career at the BBC – a pioneer, innovator and outstanding leader – she has kept the BBC at the forefront of sport for a generation,” said Tim Davie, BBC director general. “I wish her well. She will leave the BBC with a tremendous legacy.”
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