UPDATED, 9 AM PT: Boris Johnson’s government has confirmed that former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp will become the next chair of the BBC following an “open and rigorous” recruitment process. He will take up the post in February, replacing Sir David Clementi. Before then, Sharp will face Parliamentary scrutiny, when he appears before MPs of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. He will earn £160,000 for the part-time role, which is an increase of 60% on Clementi’s pay packet of £100,000. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Richard’s leadership in the top flight of finance and commerce, combined with his passion for culture and public service make him the ideal person for this hugely important role. He is exactly the Chair the BBC needs right now.” Sharp added: “The BBC is at the heart of British cultural life and I’m honoured to be offered the chance to help guide it through the next chapter in its history.”
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PREVIOUSLY: The UK government is preparing to name Richard Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker and ex-chair of the Royal Academy of the Arts, as the next chairman of the BBC, according to Sky News and BBC media editor Amol Rajan.
Sharp, who was first tipped as a frontrunner for the role last October, will succeed Sir David Clementi when he steps down next month. His appointment is set to be confirmed by culture secretary Oliver Dowden as early as Thursday after being approved by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sky News reported.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport declined to comment when contacted by Deadline.
A long-time Conservative party donor, Sharp worked at Goldman Sachs for 22 years, during which time he served as British chancellor Rishi Sunak’s boss. Since leaving the investment bank in 2007, he served on the Bank Of England’s Financial Policy Committee and advised Johnson while he was London Mayor.
More recently, Sharp has taken a voluntary role advising the Treasury on its pandemic response. It is here that he has crossed paths with the TV and film industry, helping put in place the world-leading £500M production insurance scheme that allowed shoots to restart.
The University of Oxford graduate is said to be a lover of culture and served as the chair of the Royal Academy of the Arts from 2007 to 2012, as well as co-founding music education charity London Music Masters.
Sharp emerged as a leading contender for the BBC chairman post after the government’s reportedly preferred candidate, Charles Moore, counted himself out of the race. Moore would have been a highly controversial pick, given he is a fervent critic of the BBC and was once fined for not paying his license fee.
The BBC chairman is not in charge of the day-to-day operations at the broadcaster — that duty lies with director general Tim Davie — but is responsible for ensuring that the corporation fulfills its public purposes. The chairman is also tasked with protecting the BBC’s independence.
Sharp will go into bat for the BBC during a crucial mid-term review of the license fee in spring next year. During these negotiations with the government, the BBC’s funding up until 2027 will be decided.
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