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Michael Grade appointed Ofcom chair

The long search for Lord Burns' successor is finally over

Two years after the search began, Michael Grade has been officially announced as the new chair of UK media regulator Ofcom.

TVBEurope first reported in December that the former BBC, Channel 4 and ITV executive was in the running for the job. It’s believed he was in the running alongside Ed Vaizey and Stephen Gilbert.

Lord Grade succeeds Lord Burns, who stepped down from the role in December 2020, and will serve a term of four years.

The search for a new Ofcom chair has been a protracted affair. Last summer ex-Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre emerged as the government’s preferred candidate, but eventually ruled himself out after failing to secure the position.

Speaking about the appointment, secretary of state for culture Nadine Dorries said: “I am delighted to announce that Lord Grade is the Government’s preferred candidate to be the new chair of Ofcom. 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.

“Going forward, Ofcom has an even more important role to play as the UK’s communications regulator. The introduction of the Online Safety Bill will give it new responsibilities and resources 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.”

Grade added: “Ofcom is respected across the globe as a first rate communications regulator so I am privileged to be asked to become its chair. 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. I look forward to my appearance in front of the DCMS Select Committee to outline what I can bring to this role and how I can help ensure Ofcom is fit for the future.”

He will now appear before MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny at a date to be confirmed.

Grade currently sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer, but will move to the cross benches if the appointment is confirmed, said the DCMS. His career has included stints as controller of BBC One (1984-1986), chief executive of Channel 4 (1988–1997), chairman of the BBC (2004–2006), and executive chairman of ITV plc (2007–2009).