Dimbleby in the running for BBC's top post

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The Independent Online

The Dimbleby media dynasty is seeking to spread its power base. David Dimbleby, the BBC's veteran broadcaster, is running for the chairmanship of the corporation.

Mr Dimbleby, who has been the BBC's anchorman for six general elections and on royal occasions, and who is the host of Question Time, will give up his broadcasting commitments if he is selected.

He is believed to be one of five candidates on a shortlist vying to take over from Sir Christopher Bland at the end of September. The appointment must wait until then so that the new Leader of the Opposition – who is selected earlier in the month – can be consulted.

The Labour peer Baroness Jay, the ex-wife of the outgoing BBC economics editor, Peter Jay, has also expressed her interest in the job.

The five will be interviewed by a panel of civil servants from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. One name will then be sent to the Prime Minister for approval.

Mr Dimbleby, 62, the elder of the two broadcasting brothers, has no known political affiliations. However, after working for the BBC for 40 years he has become a passionate supporter of the licence fee. He believes it is important to articulate why the fee should be retained.

Mr Dimbleby has little need of the £82,000-a-year salary. Earlier this year, he sold the newspaper group established by his family more than a century ago, the Dimbleby Newspaper Group, of which he was sole proprietor.

The sale – to Newsquest, Britain's second largest regional newspaper group, and a subsidiary of the American publishing giant Gannett – reportedly netted him £8m. The group included nine paid-for weekly titles in London.