DCMS Committee gives verdict on incoming BBC chairman Richard Sharp

Richard Sharp appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee following the Government's announcement that h
Richard Sharp appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee following the Government's announcement that he is the preferred candidate for the post of BBC chairman.

Richard Sharp’s appointment as the next BBC chairman has been approved by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The former Goldman Sachs banker, who was chosen by the Government as its preferred candidate for the post, appeared before the committee to face questions from MPs on Thursday.

In a report on the session, the committee said it was impressed by his understanding of business, the BBC’s public service commitments and the need to compete in the changing global media landscape.

It said that initial reservations over his lack of editorial experience had been overcome.

Sir David Clementi interview
Sir David Clementi leaves the post in February (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

However, MPs said Mr Sharp had failed to convince them he had the knowledge needed to get to grips with the issue of equal pay at the BBC.

Mr Sharp will take over from Sir David Clementi in February as the BBC faces scrutiny over issues including equal pay, diversity, free TV licences for the over-75s and competition from streaming services such as Netflix, plus the coronavirus pandemic.

Committee chairman Julian Knight said: “Richard Sharp impressed the DCMS Committee with his understanding of how the BBC needs to compete and perform while delivering public service value in a changing media world. We wish him well in the challenges ahead.

“We have outstanding questions on equal pay at the BBC and it’s a matter of urgency that, as incoming chair, he gets up to speed with these as quickly as possible and comes back to us with answers.

“We have previously expressed concerns about the way the appointments process was conducted, particularly in the briefing of preferred names at an early stage. We note that our view is shared by the Commissioner for Public Appointments who recognises the damage done and has called for people briefing on or behalf of ministers to keep their views to themselves.”

The process was not an “open and orderly affair”, with the names of the Government’s preferred candidates leaked from the outset, MPs said.

Names previously linked with the post include former chancellor George Osborne and ex-editor of The Daily Telegraph Charles Moore, who reportedly ruled himself out.

Mr Sharp has said he plans to donate his £160,000 salary to charity.

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