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Menna Richards tops our power poll.

She may not have as many millions to spend or be able to pick 15 men to win a Grand Slam, but BBC Wales controller Menna Richards has pipped the likes of Rhodri Morgan and Mike Ruddock in a Western Mail poll to find the country's most powerful figure.

Ms Richards presides over a budget of more than pounds 60m a year, with more than 1,200 staff. They put together more than 1,000 hours of television, along with more than 15,000 hours of radio.

And she runs the organisation at one of the toughest times in its history, with job cuts to be implemented as part of an efficiency drive, the twin challenges of digital television and a Government charter review - not to mention helping to patch together the reputation of BBC news after the Hutton report saga.

In our poll, run this week on our website icwales.co.uk, Ms Richards, pictured below, polled 28% of the vote, just ahead of Grand-Slam winning rugby coach Mike Ruddock on 26%. First Minister Rhodri Morgan scored 20%; Sir Terry Matthews, Wales' first billionaire, scored 18%; and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain was fifth on 8%.

Ms Richards was born in Maesteg in 1953 and worked as a radio and television journalist for BBC Wales until 1983. She then worked as a reporter for HTV Wales, a role that took her around the world as well as to the corridors of power in Wales, Westminster and Brussels.

During the 1990s she rose to become managing director of HTV Wales, switching to the BBC job in 2000. As well as running the largest media organisation in Wales, she is involved in numerous arts ventures, including the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she is chairman, to the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, where she is vice-president.

We asked you to consider who had the most influence on our lives, and who made the decisions that really mattered. Wales rugby coach Mike Ruddock took an early lead, before being overtaken by Ms Richards.

The politicians make the spending decisions, but Ruddock's Grand Slam winning side has the greater potential to give the nation a buzz.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 7, 2006
Words:363
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