LONDON -- The BBC chose a former head of its news division yesterday to lead the broadcaster through a "long, hard look" at itself as it struggles to recover from a scandal stemming from its coverage of child sex abuse.

Tony Hall, CEO of the Royal Opera House, will start as BBC's new director-general in March, said Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust.

Hall, 61, worked at the BBC for 28 years, including a decade as director of news before taking the Royal Opera post in 2001. He succeeds George Entwistle, who resigned on Nov. 10, after 54 days in the job.

The new director said the organization has had a "difficult few weeks," but would recover.

"This organization is an incredibly important part of what makes the United Kingdom what it is," he said.

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The BBC has been shaken by controversy over a decision by its Newsnight program not to run a report that one of its former stars, Jimmy Savile, was a serial sexual abuser of young women and by its recent broadcast of a program that wrongly linked a prominent politician to child sex abuse.

Entwistle resigned after failing to convincingly explain these failings. -- AP