Advertisement

TV executive Samir Shah is Government’s choice for next BBC chairman

Veteran TV executive Dr Samir Shah is the Government’s preferred candidate to become BBC chairman, it has been announced.

The role was vacated earlier this year by former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp, who resigned after failing to declare his connection to an £800,000 loan made to Boris Johnson.

Since then Dame Elan Closs Stephens has been acting BBC chairwoman.

A statement from Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “With a career spanning more than 40 years in TV production and journalism, Dr Shah has a wealth of experience to bring to the position of BBC chair.

“He has a clear ambition to see the BBC succeed in a rapidly changing media landscape, and I have no doubt he will provide the support and scrutiny that the BBC needs to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

“His knowledge of the BBC and his belief in its role as a national broadcaster alongside his extensive work to promote diversity in broadcasting will be invaluable in helping to ensure that the BBC reflects, represents and serves communities across the whole of the UK.”

BBC chairman post
Richard Sharp resigned as BBC chairman after failing to declare his connection to a loan made to Boris Johnson (DCMS/PA)

Dr Shah is currently chief executive of award-winning production company Juniper TV, which makes a number of political and current affairs programmes.

He was previously the BBC’s head of television current affairs, and later ran the BBC’s political journalism department at Millbank.

He said: “I am delighted to be named the preferred candidate for chair of the BBC and I look forward to the upcoming pre-appointment hearing with the Select Committee.

“The BBC is, without doubt, one of the greatest contributions we have made to global culture and one of our strongest calling cards on soft power.

“If I am able to put what skills, experience and understanding of public service broadcasting I have built up during my career to help this brilliant organisation meet the complex and diverse challenges it faces over the coming years, it would be an honour.

“The BBC has a great place in British life and a unique duty to reach a wide audience right across the country, and I will do all I can to ensure it fulfils this in an increasingly competitive market.”

Dr Shah’s appointment comes at a time of increased pressure on the corporation after it was reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to block a 9% increase in the licence fee.

The licence fee freeze is due to come to an end in April 2024, with a £15 annual rise expected, but the Government has said that seems “high”.

The corporation is seeking to make £500 million of savings in the face of high inflation and the two-year freeze on the fee, which provides most of its funding.

If the licence fee does not rise the BBC will be put under further financial pressure.

The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee is set to hold a pre-appointment hearing into the new chair of the BBC on December 13.

There will then a committee report into the suitability of Dr Shah following the meeting, which will be given to the Government.

A BBC spokesman said: “We welcome the announcement that Samir Shah has been selected as the Government’s preferred candidate to take up the role of BBC chair and look forward to him joining the board once the formal process has been completed.”