Grade confirmed as BBC chairman

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The Independent Online

Michael Grade was confirmed by Downing Street today as the new chairman of the BBC board of governors.

Michael Grade was confirmed by Downing Street today as the new chairman of the BBC board of governors.

The appointment, widely trailed, was announced at 1pm when No 10 said in a statement: "The Queen has approved the appointment of Michael Grade as chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation."

Mr Grade's appointment has been broadly welcomed.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said: "Michael is the right man at the right time. He has a passion for broadcasting, especially public service broadcasting.

"He knows it inside out. And he has the energy to lead the BBC from the front, defending its independence and integrity from all comers.

"The Nolan appointment process, exceptionally aided by Dame Rennie Fritchie's scrutiny panel, has produced a chairman the BBC can be truly proud of."

Dame Rennie, commissioner for public appointments, chaired a scrutiny panel to oversee the process.

She said: "The scrutiny panel which I chaired to ensure the propriety and completeness of the process of appointment met with representatives from the selection panel twice and examined all paperwork.

"We were entirely satisfied with the design, implementation and outcome of the process. I hope that this extra guarantee will give the public added confidence that the process was open and fair."

The colourful figure, former Channel 4 boss and member of a showbusiness dynasty, was once dubbed Britain's "pornographer-in-chief" because of the content of some C4 programmes.

Mr Grade will fill the vacancy left by Gavyn Davies, who departed after the Hutton report into the death of Dr David Kelly.

He runs the Pinewood-Shepperton film studios and is chairman of the Lottery firm Camelot, and had already emerged as a favourite for the post among some commentators before today's announcement.

Candidates for the chairmanship were interviewed earlier this month by a panel led by Sue Street, the Culture Department's permanent secretary.

Also tipped for the post were Question Time presenter David Dimbleby, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Watson, and former BBC vice-chairman Lady Young.

The new chairman released a statement saying he would not let anything get in the way of the BBC's future as a value for money broadcaster.

He said: "This is quite a day for me.

"Apart from my obvious pride and delight, I also feel my experience has prepared me to step into the role at a difficult moment in the Corporation's history.

"I would like to thank those who appointed me for having the courage to break the mould.

"I would also like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Gavyn Davies, who gave so much to support the ideals of the Corporation and who showed great courage and dignity in the manner of his departure.

"The editorial independence of the BBC is paramount in maintaining the support of the viewers and listeners. Without it, there is no point to the BBC.

"It is my job, and the job of the whole board, to ensure that the BBC can continue to earn public and parliamentary support so that the provision of universally available, value for money, public service broadcasting is neither jeopardised nor marginalised.

"Nothing must be allowed to deprive our children and our grandchildren of the rich experience we have come to expect and enjoy these past decades from the British Broadcasting Corporation."

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