NUJ backs MPs' call for a fair procedure in choosing next BBC board chair

  • 01 Oct 2020

Any recruitment process needs to make sure it attracts and appoints the very best candidates; not just friends of the Prime Minister.

The NUJ has backed an MPs' committee call for a fair and transparent process in the appointment to the chairs of the BBC board and broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said:

"It shouldn't even be a matter of debate whether the chairs of the BBC Board and Ofcom are chosen through a fair and transparent process. These are two of the most important roles in the media industry and we can't have people just given the roles because they happen to be friends with the Prime Minister.
"There are plenty of more suitable candidates who would do much better jobs than the current names being mentioned. Any recruitment process needs to make sure it attracts and appoints the very best candidates into the two roles."

The cross-party House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee called for assurances on the fairness of the appointment process following speculation that the government's preferred candidates for the roles were former editor of the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore, and former editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre. Both men are on the record for their hostility to the corporation; Charles Moore has said he does not watch television and has been fined for non-payment of the TV licence.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS Committee said:

"Those appointed to head up the BBC and the broadcasting regulator Ofcom will play a critical role in a fast-changing media landscape. Transparency must be at the heart of the process and this committee is determined to ensure that is what we will get.
"We cannot have a fair process undermined by politicking. Cabinet ministers must not indulge in public speculation or private briefing about potential appointments to either of these posts if the integrity of the appointments process is to be maintained.
"To increase scrutiny, we're asking for statutory veto over the appointment and dismissal of the next chair of Ofcom, a power that has been called for repeatedly and has precedent elsewhere."

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