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Ofcom set to become even more politicised with new Chair appointment

The UK government has announced its preferred candidate for Ofcom chair is Tory peer Michael Grade.

If his appointment is approved, Lord Grade (pictured) will team up with Chief Exec Dame Melanie Dawes to form an establishment dream team. Furthermore, Grade seems to be fairly openly partisan in favour of the Tory party that made him a life peer. The Guardian notes his recent defence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and is especially concerned about his apparent animosity towards the BBC.

“Ofcom is respected across the globe as a first rate communications regulator so I am privileged to be asked to become its Chair,” said Grade. “The role of Ofcom in British life has never been more important with new responsibilities on the horizon regulating online safety, on top of the ever changing broadcasting landscape. I look forward to my appearance in front of the DCMS Select Committee to outline what I can bring to this role and how I can help ensure Ofcom is fit for the future.”

“I am delighted to announce that Lord Grade is the Government’s preferred candidate to be the new Chair of Ofcom,” said Censor-in-chief Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. “Lord Grade’s experience at the highest level of a number of broadcasters and his expert knowledge of the British media landscape makes him an ideal candidate for this role.

“Going forward, Ofcom has an even more important role to play as the UK’s communications regulator. The introduction of the Online Safety Bill will give it new responsibilities and resources to ensure digital platforms tackle illegal and abusive material online. I am confident that under Lord Grade’s leadership Ofcom will rise to the challenge with great success.”

The Online Safety Bill is the UK government’s bid to give Ofcom sweeping censorship powers over the internet. The last thing Dorries needs is the Ofcom Chair throwing a spanner in the works by asking awkward questions about civil liberties.

Grade is 79-years-old and spent most of his career in TV before the internet was even invented. Combined with his clear political allegiance, it seems likely he will just rubber-stamp whatever the current government proposes for Ofcom, for which he will be paid £142,500 per year for a three-day week. That’s £237,500 pro rata – nice work if you can get it.

 

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