David Clementi has been confirmed to take on the role of Chairman of the BBC’s new unitary board, which is replacing the BBC Trust on April 1. The former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England does not have a background in broadcasting but comes highly praised by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.
According to The Guardian, Bradley said, “I am confident that Sir David will provide the strong leadership necessary for the BBC to remain the world’s best broadcaster. [He] will bring a wealth of experience to the role and was the strongest candidate in an extremely competitive and high-caliber field. He has extensive experience as a chairman in both the commercial and not-for-profit sector, and has a strong regulatory and business background. I am confident that under his direction, the nation’s broadcaster will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Clementi published a report in March calling for the BBC to have a board akin to those at large public companies. The government adopted the recommendations and in May said it would abolish the BBC Trust, the self-regulatory body previously charged with overseeing the BBC. Rona Fairhead, and previously Chris Patten, headed the BBC Trust.
“The BBC is a world-class broadcaster and one of the UK’s most beloved and cherished institutions,” Clementi said. “It would be a great honor to join the BBC at an important time in the organization’s history.”
One of Clementi’s first orders of business will be to work with Director General Tony Hall to set the strategy and editorial direction of the BBC and shave costs of £800M by 2020.
The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will hold a pre-appointment hearing with Clementi on January 17. Per The Guardian, committee member John Nicolson said he would receive a “proper grilling” on topics including the BBC’s independence and his views on media plurality, given Fox’s proposed takeover bid for Sky.
“The committee is going to want to be assured that he will defend the BBC’s independence from political interference,” he said. “We want to make sure he is appointed properly, independently and that he guarantees BBC editorial independence. All of us want to make sure he is the right man for the job.”