Conservative peer Lord Grade emerges as favourite for Ofcom chair

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Lord Michael Grade, the former head of the BBC, who has criticised the broadcaster's coverage of certain political events, saying the tone is "gleeful and disrespectful". Photo copyright PA Wire/PA Images. Picture credit: Peter Byrne

Former BBC boss Lord Grade of Yarmouth has emerged as the favourite to become the next chair of Ofcom, according to reports.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to make a final decision this week on who will oversee the media regulator.

The process to find a suitable candidate for chair of the watchdog, which oversees broadcasting and telecommunications in the UK, has faced a series of delays since it began two years ago.

It is being rerun after an initial round of interviews failed to find a candidate.

Lord Grade, a former chairman of the BBC, and Lord Gilbert of Panteg, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and life peer, are reportedly now the frontrunners.

During his career, Lord Grade has served as controller of BBC One, chief executive of Channel 4, chairman of the BBC and executive chairman of ITV plc.

He told the Daily Telegraph last month that he had applied for the position of Ofcom chair in November, suggesting he had “kept my hat in the ring” despite “second thoughts”.

The former media executive has spoken in favour of the privatisation of Channel 4 and recently criticised the BBC’s coverage of events such as the Downing Street parties as “gleeful and disrespectful”.

He currently sits as a Conservative peer in the House of Lords after being appointed by David Cameron in 2010.

Lord Gilbert is a former deputy chair of the Conservative party and former chair of the House of Lords communications select committee.

In January, ministers announced they were reopening the recruitment process for the £142,500 three-day-a-week job, and extending the application deadline after a “favourite” to fill the position walked away.

Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was reportedly Boris Johnson’s preferred choice during the initial interviews but he withdrew from the race, claiming the civil service had influenced the process because of his right-of-centre “convictions”.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said:

“No final decision has been made on the Government’s preferred candidate for Ofcom chair. Once a decision has been made, we will make an announcement in due course.”

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