One of the candidates snubbed in the recent race for the chairmanship of media regulator Ofcom is to oversee a government-mandated review of the BBC’s future funding.
Sky News has learned that Lord Gilbert of Panteg, former leader of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, is on a list of names being assessed by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
Whitehall sources said this weekend that the appointment of an independent person to lead the review is a few weeks from completion and that other people are also being considered.
Lord Gilbert, who was knighted by David Cameron in 2015, could not be reached for comment.
A Westminster insider suggested he would be an “uncontroversial” choice to lead a review of the BBC’s future funding, although the likelihood of a major overhaul of the royalty model that has been in place for decades means any reform recommendations will be highly controversial.
Ms Dorries, whose department recently published a broadcasting white paper containing proposals to privatize Channel 4, said the Government was “ready to implement a new way of funding the BBC” and suggested Ofcom “hold the BBC to account should pull”. more robust.
Aside from suggestions on what is being described as a Netflix-style subscription model, few specific details have surfaced about the ministers’ mindset.
The annual cost of £159 for a television license has been frozen until 2024, rising slightly in each of the following three years.
Last month the BBC announced a series of cuts aimed at saving £200million, with the most prominent victims being television broadcasters BBC4 and CBBC.
Around 1,000 jobs will also be cut.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie said at the time: “When I took this job, I said we had to fight for something important: public service content and services that were universally and freely available, for the good of all.
“This fight is getting more and more intense, there is a lot at stake.”
In recent days there has been mounting evidence that Boris Johnson’s narrower-than-expected victory in this week’s confidence vote could derail the sale of Channel 4 amid the level of backbench Tory opposition to the policy.
Lord Gilbert was on the verge of being appointed Ofcom chairman earlier this year before eventually losing to Lord Grade, former chairman of the BBC and ITV.
The BBC finance review is separate from work Ms Dorries commissioned last month which will examine the company’s track record of impartiality and the diversity of its workforce.
Ofcom’s search process has been described as a “mess” that “would put a reality TV series to shame” by Julian Knight, the MP who chairs the Commons culture selection committee.
A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on the possible appointment of Lord Gilbert to lead the BBC Funding Review.
Spurned Ofcom candidate Gilbert is vetted to head BBC funding review | business news
Source link Spurned Ofcom candidate Gilbert is vetted to head BBC funding review | business news