Sir David Clementi, author of report that originally suggested scrapping the “flawed” BBC Trust, has been announced as Chairman of the broadcaster’s new unitary board.

*Updated 19 January

As ex-Bank of England deputy governor, Clementi was said to be the preferred candidate of the UK’s Culture Secretary. He will now lead the BBC’s new unitary board, effectively replacing Rona Fairhead who was due to take up the position.

The new board will have 14 members: the government and the BBC will appoint five directors each alongside four BBC executives, including Director-General Tony Hall. The new Chair will also play a role in these nominations.

The BBC Trust was effectively scrapped upon the recommendation of Clementi’s review into the governance and regulation of the BBC last year. As a result, the broadcaster will no longer be self-regulated as a means of ensuring its independence from government but instead regulated by the communications watchdog Ofcom from April 2017.

The new board, made up of senior staff and independent members, will be responsible for safeguarding the interests of license fee payers and overseeing the implementation of the BBC’s new Royal Charter. Further challenges facing the new board include ensuring up to £800m of annual savings now that the BBC is funding TV licences for over-75s and meeting the challenges of an increasingly competitive digital media landscape.

Clementi is due to be questioned in a pre-appointment hearing with the British government’s culture, media and sport select committee next Tuesday where, according to The Guardian, he will face questions about the future independence of the BBC and media plurality in the UK. The hearing will likely bring up the concerns of critics such as his lack of broadcast experience.

Update: 19 January

Sir David Clementi has secured parliamentary approval from the culture, media and sport committee, effectively securing his new role as Chairman of the BBC

The cross party committee quizzed the new Chairman on the 17 January, reviewing his ability to head the broadcaster’s board despite a lack of experience in the industry.

However, Clementi won parliament’s approval with his assurance that “he would endeavour to plug these gaps with careful appointments of non-executive directors, who would bring specific areas of expertise to the unitary board.”

Clementi also impressed the committee with his acknowledgement of the need for the BBC to improve in the area of diversity, promising to tackle this as a top priority.

Clementi’s nomination to the post will now go before the Privy Council where his appointment is likely to be approved.


By Kristian Porter

Header image: Tim Loudon/Creative Commons