New BBC Chair Must Have ‘Demonstrable Experience,’ Hiring Process Must be ‘Transparent’ Director General Tim Davie Says

BBC director general Tim Davie has called for a “transparent” hiring process for the next chair of the corporation.

The previous BBC chair Richard Sharp resigned over his role in a 2020 loan to then U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Elan Closs Stephens has been appointed temporary acting chair.

Davie appeared before a U.K. Culture Media and Sport Committee parliamentary inquiry on the workings of the BBC on Tuesday and was asked what qualities and skills BBC needs for the new chair. “This is an incredibly precious institution, globally admired complex, right in the heart of the public eye. It needs a world class chair and we need an outstanding candidate to do that,” Davie told the committee.

“From a board point of view, we absolutely believe that a transparent process is critical. It obviously has to be someone who can champion the impartiality and the independence of the BBC, that is utterly critical. I think it’s useful to have demonstrable experience – and we’ve had this in the past in terms of demonstrable experience in the sector – and they understand this industry.”

Sharp was previously an investment banker.

In addition, without the Phillip Schofield scandal at fellow U.K. broadcaster ITV being explicitly referred to, the committee asked about “imbalance of power in the workplace” and if the BBC had measures in place to “prevent junior staff members careers being unduly influenced or derailed” by “incredibly high paid and powerful celebrities” within the BBC’s ranks.

“Imbalances of power are dangerous and we care about them. So the first thing is culturally, at the top of the BBC, I am very, very direct that that is not something I want to see in the organization,” Davie said.

David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards at the BBC, referred to corporation protocols and added: “Any personal or sexual relations with any contributors are prohibited and will result in disciplinary procedures, all crew to keep professional boundaries with contributors, and this is not to be crossed.”

Also present at the inquiry was BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore.

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