Race Commissioner Shah in frame for chairman of the BBC


A former BBC board member who spent decades making television programs is among the candidates to become the corporation’s next chairman.

Sky News has learned that Samir Shah, whose current roles include serving on the Commission for Race and Ethnic Inequalities, is one of the names on a shortlist to replace Richard Sharp, who stepped down last spring.

Shah, whose television career began at LWT in the late 1970s, is a well-known figure in government and cultural circles, and has also been a trustee of the V&A and a member of the Holocaust Commission.

The search for a successor to Mr. Sharp, who resigned in April amid a row over his role in helping to facilitate a six-figure loan to Boris Johnson, the former prime minister is not yet at an advanced stage, according to insiders.

Interviews for the post recently started, with more than a handful of candidates still in the running to take one of the most prestigious posts in the UK media industry.

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Dr. Samir Shah is the Commissioner of the Commission for Racial and Ethnic Differences

Dr. Shah originally joined BBC in 1987 to oversee its TV current affairs production before continuing to run its politics program from Westminster.

He left the company in 1998 to run Juniper, an independent television production company, where he remains CEO.

Between 2007 and 2010 he sat on the BBC’s board as a non-executive director.

The identity of the other candidates for the BBC chairman post is unclear, and several leading industry figures have chosen not to apply for the role.

Sir Damon Buffini, deputy chairman and chairman of the BBC’s commercial division, was expected to be the front-runner for the job, but is reported to have not thrown his hat into the ring.

Other prominent media bosses, including Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former ITV chairman, have publicly ruled themselves out.

Dame Elan Closs Stephens, the acting chair, is also thought to be in the running to take the post on a permanent basis.

The appointment of Mr. Sharp’s long-term successor will come at a deeply sensitive time for the BBC, which has been plunged into a series of crises this year involving current and former presenters – including the news anchor Hi Edwards and Russell Brand.

It has also struggled with a long-standing challenge over guidelines for impartiality which it expects its broadcasters – such as Match of the Day host Gary Lineker – to join.

These sensitivities are likely to become even more acute over the next year with a general election on the horizon.

Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, is also grappling with long-term questions about the corporation’s future funding model, with recent culture secretaries such as Nadine Dorries signaling the end of the license fee after 2027.

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The company has been forced to implement significant cost cuts affecting parts of its news and current affairs production, including long-running programs such as BBC 2’s Newsnight.

Rishi Sunakthe Prime Minister, will have to sign off on the identity of the company’s new manager.

Saxton Bampfylde, the headhunter, oversees the search for the BBC chair.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the BBC both declined to comment on Thursday.


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