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February 17, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:56am

BBC deputy political editor John Pienaar leaves to join Times Radio launch

By Charlotte Tobitt

BBC News deputy political editor John Pienaar is leaving the corporation after almost 30 years to join Times Radio.

Pienaar will present the drivetime show on the new station, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, which is set to launch later this year.

News UK said the show would “deal with the issues of the day in Westminster and beyond”.

He currently presents a weekly Sunday morning programme on BBC Radio 5 Live called Pienaar Politics alongside his responsibilities as deputy political editor, a role he took up in 2016.

Pienaar said in a statement: “It’s been a huge pleasure and a great privilege to work at the Beeb.

“Now, I couldn’t be more thrilled about joining the greatest and oldest title in journalism – in such a new and ambitious project on the digital front line.

“The guiding aim is to offer listeners high quality discussion and analysis of the stories and issues of the day, and make it a compelling, enjoyable listen. I can’t wait to get started.”

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News UK announced last month it will launch Times Radio, a talk radio station promising “provocative and well-informed” news and current affairs analysis, later this year.

The new station also promised news and commentary from unnamed “high-profile” presenters from the world of broadcasting as well as commentators from the Times and Sunday Times.

The multi-million pound investment marks a further push into radio by Murdoch, who already owns Talkradio, Talksport and Virgin Radio, as commercial radio looks to challenge the BBC’s dominance of the airwaves.

Times Radio launch director and Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell said: “John Pienaar is one of the most familiar and well-respected voices in broadcasting.

“His knowledge, warmth and ability to make the complex and contrary understandable will create immense value for our listeners.

“I’m delighted he’s signed up to what I hope will be a new destination for those people hungry for quality reporting and trusted, expert analysis.”

Pienaar has covered politics for the BBC since 1992 when he joined as a political correspondent.

His work has spanned the BBC’s news and current affairs across its evening news bulletins and the Today programme on Radio 4 before he became chief political correspondent at Radio 5 Live in 2002.

Pienaar’s journalism career began at South London Press before he spent stints at the Press Association and as political correspondent at The Independent newspaper.

Reacting to the news, BBC News presenter Simon McCoy tweeted: “Congratulations! Our loss…”

Picture: BBC

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