Samir Shah to head century old BBC



Dr Samir Shah, television industry veteran is set to be appointed as chairman of the century-old British Broadcasting Corp. The 71-year-old Shah who was director on the BBC’s board has been with the UK broadcasting for over 40 years, and has led the political and current affairs television. The India-born media executive, Shah has been announced as the UK government’s preferred candidate. He was honoured with a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 2019, (Commander of the Order of the British Empire, it is the highest ranking Order of the British Empire) for services to television and heritage. He is a race relations expert who co-authored the UK government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report in 2021.

He will replace Richard Sharp, who has been forced to resign after he breached rules on public appointments in connection to a secret £800,000 loan made to Boris Johnson.

Before being appointed to the role, Shah will be questioned by a cross-party group of MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee at a hearing, before formally taking charge.

He is, however, the culture secretary’s “preferred candidate” for the three-days-a-week position, which pays a salary of £160,000. “With a career spanning more than 40 years in TV production and journalism, Dr Shah has a wealth of experience to bring to the position of BBC Chair,” UK Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said on Wednesday.

Shah said he was “delighted” to be chosen by the government, saying the BBC held a “great place in British life”. “The BBC is, without doubt, one of the greatest contributions we have made to global culture and one of our strongest calling cards on soft power,” Shah said.

“If I am able to put what skills, experience, and understanding of public service broadcasting I have built up during my career to help this brilliant organisation meet the complex and diverse challenges it faces over the coming years, it would be an honour,” he added.

This is a challenging time for the BBC with the prime minister, Rishi Sunak saying BBC cuts – where its flagship news programme Newsnight cut to 30 minutes and transformed into a debate show – are welcome amid reports of licence fee curbs. As BBC chairman, Shah will be responsible for upholding and protecting the taxpayer-funded licence fee-operated public broadcaster and ensuring it fulfils its mission to “inform, educate and entertain”.

Shah had been critical of the BBC while he was non-executive director, saying that the “One BBC ethos” created a “monolithic posture that makes it appear anti-competitive”. However, his journalistic expertise and understanding is being valued. Shah left BBC in 1998 to become CEO and owner of Juniper TV, which has produced programmes for Channel 4 and the BBC.

A fellow of the Royal Television Society, he is also a Bafta board member and chairman of One World Media, which promotes independent media coverage from developing countries.

Born in Aurangabad, Shah came to England in 1960. He has a geography degree from the University of Hull and a doctorate from the University of Oxford.


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