BBC News head to step down in 2022
She was appointed to her current role in January 2018 and has worked at the BBC for more than four decades, having started her career in 1980 with BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat.
Ms Unsworth has overseen a series of output changes as part of a cost-cutting and modernisation drive.
She said in a statement: “After more than 40 years with the BBC, I have decided that the time is right for me to hand on the job of leading the world’s best news organisation.
“The jobs I’ve done have not always been easy. Undoubtedly, some were more fun than others. But I am proud to have done all of them – and to work for an organisation which has such a vital and precious role in the UK and around the world.
“The BBC is free of commercial and proprietorial pressure. Our bosses are the audiences we serve. I am honoured to have been be part of it.”
BBC Director-General Tim Davie said Ms Unsworth had, throughout her career, “embodied the values of BBC News”.
“She is a world-class journalist and is respected and admired by colleagues across the BBC,” he said.
“Fran has taken BBC News through one of the most testing periods in its history, providing a vital service during the Covid-19 pandemic, when record audiences turned to BBC News.”
Her previous roles have included BBC home news editor, head of political programmes, and head of newsgathering.
She was the BBC’s acting director of news and current affairs for periods between 2012 and 2013 and became the first female director of the BBC World Service Group in 2014, overseeing the biggest expansion of the World Service since the 1940s.
Ms Unsworth will leave at the end of January 2022, the corporation said.