The BBC has been without a permanent Chairman since last April when Richard Sharp resigned. Dame Elan Closs Stephens became the acting Chair in June and now, 6 months later, Dr. Samir Shah has been selected as Chairman.
So, who is he? There may be those amongst our members who worked with him as he joined the BBC in 1987 to head its TV current affairs operation after a stint at the commercial broadcaster LWT and went on to run its political journalism department at Millbank. He left in 1998 to become chief executive of the production company Juniper TV, which has produced political programming for the BBC and Channel 4 as well as several BBC Radio 4 programmes.
It appears that the new Chairman has had a serious journalistic broadcast career and is someone whom the staff can have confidence in. Sir Trevor Philips said “The BBC has lost the distinction between campaigning and journalism but Samir’s rigorous way of approaching things will restore it. And that is what will save the BBC.” It has been a relief to some that a broadcaster is in the top role with vast experience of making programmes and also knows the BBC and how it works.
The main priority for Samir Shah will be negotiating the BBC’s charter and future funding with the government as the clock starts ticking ahead of the expiry of the current deal at the end of 2027. It does feel, finally, that we have a Chairman who, whilst being a critical friend of the BBC, will be someone who will have the interests of the audience and the BBC at the centre of his strategy.
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