The UK House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is urging the Government to ensure that the process to appoint the next Chair of the BBC and Chair of Ofcom is “fair and seen to be fair”.
It follows media speculation that potential names for the roles had been promoted by senior members of the Government. The DCMS Committee is concerned that such action would cast doubt on the eventual appointments and the fairness of the process, regardless of candidates’ merits.
Its members are calling for the Government to adopt a recommendation of the predecessor Committee that would give it statutory right of veto over senior appointments to Ofcom.
“Those appointed to head up the BBC and the broadcasting regulator Ofcom will play a critical role in a fast-changing media landscape,” commented DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP. “Transparency must be at the heart of the process and this committee is determined to ensure that is what we will get.”
“We cannot have a fair process undermined by politicking. Cabinet ministers must not indulge in public speculation or private briefing about potential appointments to either of these posts if the integrity of the appointments process is to be maintained.”
“To increase scrutiny, we’re asking for statutory veto over the appointment and dismissal of the next Chair of Ofcom, a power that has been called for repeatedly and has precedent elsewhere,” he noted.