Media veteran Samir Shah selected as new BBC chairman
He will replace Richard Sharp, who was forced to resign after his communication with former prime minister Boris Johnson came under scrutiny
Samir Shah (Image credit: junipertv.co.uk)
SAMIR SHAH, a media executive with more than 40 years of experience in TV production and journalism, has been named as the government’s preferred candidate to take over as the new BBC chairman.
He will replace Richard Sharp, who was forced to resign after his communication with former prime minister Boris Johnson came under scrutiny.
Shah, 71, will now be quizzed by cross-party MPs of the Commons Media Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny before formally taking charge of the public service broadcaster.
“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,” culture secretary Lucy Frazer said on Wednesday (6).
She said his knowledge of the BBC and his extensive work to promote diversity in broadcasting will help the corporation reflect and serve communities across the UK.
Shah described the BBC as “one of the greatest contributions” the UK has 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,” he added.
Born in Aurangabad, Shah came to England in 1960 and was previously the head of current affairs and political programmes at the BBC.
The CEO and owner of Juniper, an independent television and radio production company, Shah has also served as a non-executive director of the BBC between 2007 and 2010.
The Oxford University alumnus is a race relations expert who co-authored the government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report in 2021.
More recently, he was named on a three-member panel set up by the government to independently review the unrest that took place in Leicester last year.
As BBC chairman, a three-day-a-week role with an annual salary of £160,000, Shah will be responsible for upholding and protecting the taxpayer-funded licence fee-operated public broadcaster and ensuring it fulfils its mission to “inform, educate and entertain”.
He will also lead negotiations with the government over the future of the licence fee.
Shah’s selection marks a sea change, as it means there will now be a journalist at the top of the BBC.
His appointment comes at a challenging time for the BBC, which is looking to make £500 million of savings in the face of high inflation and a two-year freeze on the cost of a TV licence.
The licence fee, which provides most of the BBC’s funding, is currently £159 but is due to rise in April in line with inflation.