• | 4:04 pm

Indian-origin media executive Samir Shah named BBC chairman

Shah was born in Aurangabad, a city in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, and emigrated to England in 1960.

Indian-origin media executive Samir Shah named BBC chairman
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The UK government has designated Samir Shah, a seasoned media executive of Indian-origin as its favored choice to assume the role of the new chairman for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Shah comes with over four decades of experience in TV production and journalism and has previously held roles at the BBC’s leading political and current affairs programs. Currently, he serves as the CEO and owner of Juniper, an independent television and radio production company.

His appointment follows the resignation of Richard Sharp, prompted by the examination of his communications with former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Following his departure, Professor Dame Elan Closs Stephens, a member of the BBC board, assumed the role of acting chairwoman.

Despite the BBC’s political independence, the UK government is responsible for appointing the chairperson.

The government made the announcement on Wednesday.

Shah was born in Aurangabad, a city in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, and emigrated to England in 1960.

Aged 71, Shah was bestowed with a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2019 by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to television and heritage. He has also previously been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honors List of 2000.

Before officially assuming the responsibilities of the public service broadcaster, Shah will have to undergo questioning by members of the House of Commons Media Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee as part of the pre-appointment scrutiny process.

While expressing his delight at being named the preferred candidate for the Chair, Shah said he was looking forward to the forthcoming pre-appointment hearing with the Select Committee.

“The BBC is, without doubt, one of the greatest contributions we have made to global culture and one of our strongest calling cards on soft power,” he said.

“If I am able to put what skills, experience, and understanding of public service broadcasting I have built up during my career to help this brilliant organization meet the complex and diverse challenges it faces over the coming years, it would be an honor.”

The culture secretary Lucy Frazer also spoke about what Shah’s wealth of experience will bring to this position.

“He has a clear ambition to see the BBC succeed in a rapidly changing media landscape, and I have no doubt he will provide the support and scrutiny that the BBC needs to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future,” she said.

Taking charge of the Board, Shah is stepping in at a challenging time for the BBC, as it is grappling with a £500 million cost-cutting initiative amid rising expenses and a two-year freeze on its primary source of funding, the licensing fee. This fee, contributed by households and establishments, is expected to remain unchanged.

Besides serving as the predominant news source in the UK, the BBC, including its World Service, is available in 42 languages worldwide. It has a weekly global audience of approximately 426 million, as per its estimates in 2019.

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