The federal government is about to kick off a seek for the subsequent chairman of Channel 4 amid tensions over the state-owned broadcaster’s future.
Sky Information has learnt that Ofcom, the media regulator, is to start promoting for a successor to Charles Gurassa, who has held the function since 2016, within the coming weeks.
The method, which is predicted to take a number of months, will start weeks after Mr Gurassa made an outspoken assault on ministers’ proposed privatisation of the channel.
“Certainly, we’ve severe issues that the results shall be very dangerous, each to the UK’s artistic financial system and to the selection and breadth of distinctive British-made content material obtainable to UK audiences,” Mr Gurassa wrote.
“With out a clear evaluation of the implications of such a choice, the federal government is at risk of sleepwalking into the irreversible and dangerous sale of an essential, profitable, and much-loved, British establishment.”
Mr Gurassa will step down in January, on the finish of his second three-year time period.
Sources in Whitehall and near Channel 4 emphasised that his impending departure was unconnected to any disagreement about its future possession.
Whereas Ofcom is answerable for conducting the seek for board members of Channel 4 underneath the 1990 Broadcasting Act, appointable candidates should be signed off by Mr Dowden.
A Channel 4 spokesman mentioned it had all the time been anticipated that there could be a search course of for a brand new chairman this yr owing to the expiry of Mr Gurassa’s tenure in January.
The approaching emptiness will however current the federal government with the chance to nominate a person who’s extra politically aligned to it – as has been the case with different chairmanships overseen by Mr Dowden’s division over the past yr.
Richard Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker and shut ally of Boris Johnson, was named as the brand new BBC chairman, whereas George Osborne, the previous chancellor, not too long ago landed the plum tradition publish of chairing the British Museum.
A Whitehall insider mentioned the choice course of for Mr Gurassa’s successor would contain an evaluation panel comprising Ofcom’s chair – at present Maggie Carver – and a minimum of two unbiased panellists.
The selection of Ofcom chair has itself been on the centre of political controversy after Mr Dowden elected to scrap the appointment course of in Could.
Paul Dacre, the previous Every day Mail editor-in-chief, had emerged as Mr Johnson’s most well-liked candidate for the job however was not beneficial by the preliminary choice panel.
Administrators of Channel 4 have additionally been beset by difficulties, with ministers deciding earlier this yr to not renew the phrases of two present non-executives regardless of suggestions from Ofcom on the contrary.
Ofcom and the Division for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport declined to touch upon the launch of the recruitment course of on Thursday.