Former U.K. culture secretary Nicky Morgan has emerged as an early frontrunner for the position of chair of public service broadcaster BBC, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.
The incumbent David Clementi’s five-year term ends in February. Variety understands that the process of appointing the next BBC chair is high on current culture secretary Oliver Dowden’s list, with an announcement likely in October.
Morgan is understood to be in a shortlist of two for the position, at Number 10, Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s office, with the other person likely to be a technocrat.
“Number 10 has to decide if they want someone who will bash a few heads together, or somebody who is going to nudge things along but not necessarily do it confrontationally,” a source told the Daily Telegraph.
“Number 10 is obsessed with the tech people so it could be someone with a tech digital background, somebody who comes in from outside, a different sector, different background,” the source added.
Other names doing the rounds for the position include former home secretary Amber Rudd; journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil; Robbie Gibb, former director of communications at 10, Downing Street; and Daniel Hannan, former member of European Parliament.
Whoever takes up the chair position will be thrust squarely into the continuing debate about the BBC’s funding model and the future of the license fee. Speaking in February about the future of U.K. broadcasting, Morgan had said: “The world in which the BBC was created, and the license fee was established, has changed beyond recognition.”
“So we need to think carefully about what we all want the BBC – and indeed public service broadcasting more generally – to deliver for the years ahead.”
“The BBC’s role is not just to meet the demands of today, but to be ready to meet those of the future.”
The chair position is yet to be advertised. The BBC charter states that there should be an “open and fair competition” for the position, and that “it is important that the public and industry have confidence that the new chair has been recruited in a transparent way.”
Once a candidate has been identified, she or he will have to appear at a confirmatory hearing before a culture, media and sport select committee, ahead of the appointment, the charter states.
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