- Written by Ian Young
- Entertainment and arts reporter
MPs who questioned the new BBC boss have “serious reservations” about some of his qualities.
Samir Shah appeared before a House of Commons committee on Wednesday before his official appointment.
He is the government’s preferred candidate for this position, and in statements published on Friday, the committee agreed to “appoint him as chairman.”
However, they questioned whether Dr Shah had the “strength and character” needed to challenge BBC executives.
At the hearing, he discussed issues including Gary Lineker’s use of social media, but MPs said he “refused to express an opinion” on matters such as changes to local radio and cuts to Newsnight.
He was also asked for his opinion on allegations that a BBC board member – former Downing Street communications director Sir Robbie Gibb – tried to interfere in editorial matters and in the selection of a new chair of media regulator Ofcom.
The MPs report stated: “We were disappointed that Dr Shah was not willing to express a view on basic principles, such as interference at board level in the BBC and other bodies and on political neutrality.
“In his evidence to us, Dr Shah did not sufficiently demonstrate the strength and character necessary to challenge the executive leadership of the BBC.”
She added: “Although we believe that Dr. Shah will be appointed Chairman, we have serious reservations about his willingness to offer his views and vision on some of the fundamental issues facing the company, and his ability to provide a strong challenge.” “What the BBC’s leadership requires at this time.”
At the hearing, Dr Shah said he would discuss these issues with acting chairwoman Dame Elan Closs-Stevens, but repeatedly told the committee that he wanted to wait to see the evidence and speak to those involved before reaching a judgement.
The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee can question the preferred candidate to be BBC chief, but it works separately from the government, which ultimately makes the appointment.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson welcomed the committee’s view that Dr Shah was “appointable”.
They said: “Dr Shah’s career spanning more than 40 years in television production and journalism, coupled with his ambition to see the BBC succeed, makes him well-equipped to take on the job. We will review the committee’s recommendations in more detail and respond to them in due course.” “.
Dr Shah, 71, previously held a series of roles at the BBC, including head of television current affairs and head of political programmes.
As Chairman of the BBC Board, he will be responsible for upholding and protecting the independence of the BBC and ensuring that the BBC fulfills its mission to inform, educate and entertain.
He will also lead negotiations with the government on the future of the license fee.
The BBC said it would not comment on the MPs’ report.
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