Tory peer Lord Michael Grade named as Ofcom chair after two year search

24 March 2022, 20:23

Tory peer Lord Michael Grade named as Ofcom chair after two year search. Picture: Alamy

By Liam Gould

Conservative peer and ex-broadcaster Lord Michael Grade has been named as the new chairman of media regulator Ofcom after a two-year search to fill the position.

The former media executive and businessman - who has been a Conservative peer since 2011 - said it was a "privilege" to be asked to take up the position.

The Office of Communications, commonly known as Ofcom, is the government-approved regulator for radio, television and telecoms - and deal with complaints and licensing.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said she was "delighted to announce that Lord Grade was the government's preferred candidate".

"Lord Grade's experience at the highest level of a number of broadcasters and his expert knowledge of the British media landscape makes him an ideal candidate for this role."

Other candidates were said to be fellow Conservative peers Ed Vaizey and Stephen Gilbert. Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was also reportedly in the running, but withdrew due to his personal political "convictions".

Lord Grade, 79, has had a long career in broadcasting, having worked at the BBC and ITV as a former chairman, and having spent nine years as chief executive of Channel 4.

He said Ofcom is "respected across the globe as a first-rate communications regulator".

"The role of Ofcom in British life has never been more important with new responsibilities on the horizon regulating online safety, on top of the ever-changing broadcasting landscape."

Ofcom has revoked Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT's UK licence with immediate effect. Picture: Alamy

He added that he was excited to see "what I can bring to this role and how I can help ensure Ofcom is fit for the future".

The former BBC and Channel 4 chairman will stand before the DCMS Select Committee before being formally appointed to the £142,500 a year, three-day a week job.

The recruitment process was overseen by civil servant Sue Gray - who also carried out the recent 'partygate' investigation.

Lord Grade started his career as a sports journalist in the 1980s, and was appointed chairman of the BBC in 2004. He quit the role for ITV two years later, where he remained for five years.

He is also co-founder of the theatrical production company GradeLinnit.

The announcement comes as Ofcom recently revoked the license of Russian government-backed broadcaster RT's UK licence.

Ms Dorries said that the Online Safety Bill means Ofcom will serve an even more important role "to ensure digital platforms tackle illegal and abusive material online.

"I am confident that under Lord Grade's leadership Ofcom will rise to the challenge with great success."