Brooke to widen range of governors at the BBC

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The Independent Online
PETER BROOKE, Secretary of State for National Heritage, is proposing to broaden the range of people from whom the BBC governors are chosen.

In disclosing this at a lunch of the Broadcasting Press Guild yesterday, he appeared to be supporting Sir Michael Checkland, the BBC's Director-General, who attacked the governors last week as being too unrepresentative and too old - although he later apologised if his remarks had been taken personally.

Five of the 12 governors are due to be replaced next year, including Lord Barnett, the vice-chairman.

Their successors will be appointed by the Government and Mr Brooke's voice will be decisive. He drew attention to his earlier career as an appointments consultant, in which he had learnt the importance of fitting candidates to the job. 'The five new appointments should add to the range of abilities of those who remain on the board,' he said.

But he dissociated himself from Sir Michael's specific remarks about the age of the chairman, Marmaduke Hussey. 'I hope I'm as fit and active as Mr Hussey when I'm 69,' he said.

The BBC's charter comes up for renewal in 1996 and the Green Paper containing the Government's thinking on possible changes should be published towards the end of next month, Mr Brooke said.

The Secretary of State also offered no hope of an early end to the ban on televised interviews with IRA supporters, despite an article in the Independent by John Birt, the BBC's deputy Director- General, calling for it to be lifted.