Media / Talk of the Trade: The fans of David Mellor

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The Independent Online
NOWHERE is the fate of David Mellor being watched more intently than at the BBC, where he is seen as one of those rare Tories fundamentally well-disposed towards the corporation. The October Green Paper on the BBC's future was not expected, under Mr Mellor's guidance, to end up seriously rocking the status quo by questioning the licence fee. Within commercial television he is also respected for his grasp of broadcasting policy and his stance in strengthening the programme quality thresholds governing the new ITV.

But if he goes, who will take over? There is no obvious successor. Stephen Dorrell, financial secretary to the Treasury, is one option; he combines fiscal toughness with a touch of liberal wetness. John Redwood, ultra-dry Minister of State for Local Government and Inner Cities, is also knocking on the Cabinet door; as the former head of Mrs Thatcher's policy unit, he would be much less cosy. Then there is Jonathan Aitken, Minister of Defence Procurement, the only man in the Government with experience of running a TV station (he was involved with the launch of TV-am). William Waldegrave might be a liberally inclined substitute, but he is related, by marriage, to Marmaduke Hussey, chairman of the BBC.