The next chairman of the BBC, who will steer the corporation through one of its most difficult periods, could be announced as early as today.
The selection of a successor to Gavyn Davies, who resigned following Lord Hutton's criticisms of the BBC in January, has moved much more quickly than anticipated.
The candidates for the £81,320, four-day-a-week post were interviewed by a selection panel, whose choice will be announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This could be today, and is unlikely to be later than next Wednesday.
The former Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade, the broadcaster David Dimbleby, the chairman of the English Speaking Union Lord Watson of Richmond, and Baroness Young of Old Scone, a former member of the BBC's board of governors who is now chief executive of the Environment Agency, are all believed to have been interviewed. Lord Burns of Pitshanger, the chairman of Abbey National, the broadcaster Sir David Frost and Patricia Hodgson, former chairwoman of the now defunct Independent Television Commission, have also been named in connection with the job.
The interview panel, led by the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sue Street, made its recommendation to the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell last week.
The leading candidates have made little comment. Mr Grade said: "I have made it known that I was interviewed for the post, but further than that I am not prepared to comment." Mr Dimbleby's office said he was out of the country until 14 April, suggesting that he is not in line for the post, although he is a favourite with many at the BBC. Baroness Young, Lord Watson and Lord Burns refused to comment.
One of the first tasks facing the new chairman will be to oversee the appointment of a new director general to replace Greg Dyke, who resigned at the same time as Mr Davies.
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