U.K. Picks Author of BBC Overhaul as Broadcaster’s Chairman

Updated on
  • Ex-Bank of England deputy’s appointment subject to approval
  • Broadcaster faces governance and regulatory overhaul

The U.K. government has chosen the man who proposed an overhaul of the British Broadcasting Corp.’s governance to lead the incoming board of the public broadcaster.

David Clementi, the preferred candidate, is scheduled to appear Jan. 17 before a committee of Parliament members before the appointment is confirmed, according to a statement Tuesday from the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. Clementi, 67, is a former deputy governor of the Bank of England and the author of a 2016 report that suggested replacing the BBC Trust with a board including senior staff and independent members. The government adopted his recommendations.

The world’s oldest national broadcaster is undergoing the biggest overhaul to governance and regulation since its founding in 1922, with the start of a new 10-year charter. The trust, which oversees the BBC, in April will be replaced by the new board for editorial and management decisions. That same month, Ofcom will start policing performance, programming standards and competition as the BBC’s external regulator, ending almost a century of self-regulation.

“The BBC is a world class broadcaster and one of the U.K.’s most beloved and cherished institutions,” Clementi said in the statement. “It would be a great honor to join the BBC at an important time in the organization’s history.”

The incoming chairman is beset with the twin challenges of cutting spending and battling rising competition. The BBC is seeking to save 800 million pounds ($975 million) a year to offset the cost of covering license fees for the elderly, a condition of a funding deal with the government, and so it can afford to pay for ever-pricier sports and drama. Like other traditional broadcasters and pay-TV companies such as Sky Plc and ITV Plc, it’s trying to stay relevant as digital rivals such as Netflix Inc. foment changes in viewing habits.

The BBC is also planning to turn its in-house production division into a commercial unit in 2017 to make programs for industry peers as well as itself, after the U.K. government removed a guarantee that 50 percent of the broadcaster’s programs would be made in-house. The BBC spent an estimated 2.6 billion pounds on TV in 2015, 40 percent of the industry total, according to an August report by Ofcom.

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