Samir Shah, a longtime TV executive, was selected to be the next chairman of the BBC, Britain’s public broadcasting company, the government said on Wednesday, about eight months after a political scandal led to the resignation of the previous chairman, Richard Sharp. Mr. Shah’s appointment is subject to questioning by lawmakers.
Background: A loan to the prime minister is scrutinized.
Mr. Sharp stepped down in April after an investigation found that he had failed to disclose his involvement in arranging a loan of nearly $1 million to Boris Johnson while he was prime minister.
A former Goldman Sachs banker and adviser to the British government, Mr. Sharp took on the role of BBC chairman in early 2021. He had previously donated to the governing Conservative Party and was reportedly advising his former employee, Rishi Sunak, when he was chancellor of the Exchequer. Some saw Mr. Sharp’s ties to the government as a potential benefit to the broadcaster during a critical period in which it was in negotiations with lawmakers about its funding and a review of its charter, which sets out its mission and public purpose.
Why It Matters: The BBC is facing questions over its funding.
Even as the BBC continues to command a central position in the British media and broadcasts around the world, it has been rocked in recent years by leadership changes, attacks on its impartiality and a deep squeeze on its funding that has led to substantial cost-cutting. The role of the chairman serves as an essential face of the BBC and interacts with government.
As chairman, Mr. Sharp came to a deal with the government over its license fee, which is charged each year to any household with a TV and makes up about two-thirds of the BBC’s funding. The fee was frozen for two years but is set to rise in line with inflation for four years starting April 2024.
Still, it leaves the broadcaster under intense financial pressures as it struggles to compete with streamers like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Last month, the BBC announced plans to cut spending on news services as part of a recent plan to save 500 million pounds.
The broadcaster will soon be in negotiations with the government about its charter, which expires in 2027. Those talks are expected to include a discussion about alternative funding models.
“It was very clear that the government was very intent on producing a squeaky clean appointment process,” said Alice Enders, director of research at the media research firm Enders Analysis.
Dig Deeper: A TV executive honored for his services in broadcasting.
Mr. Shah has spent more than three decades in television, including 11 years at the BBC in late 1980s and 1990s. After that, he joined Juniper, a TV production company, where he is chief executive and creative director. Mr. Shah was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 2020 for services to diversity in broadcasting.
He served on a commission that investigated race and ethnic disparities in Britain in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. The commission published a report in early 2021, which was deemed controversial for its somewhat positive outlook of race relations in Britain.
Mr. Shah “has a clear ambition to see the BBC succeed in a rapidly changing media landscape,” Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, said in a statement on Wednesday. “I have no doubt he will provide the support and scrutiny that the BBC needs to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.”
What Happens Next: Government will set the license fee amount.
The license fee is set to rise in April, but Ms. Frazer expressed concern this week about the amount of the increase, which is about £15. Calling the rise “significant,” she said the government was looking at which measure of inflation should be used to determine the increase.
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