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Chair of Ofcom appointment: Candidate makes grade on media but special measures needed for online safety

1 April 2022

Lord Grade would bring considerable experience and knowledge of the media sector to the role of Ofcom Chair but may need to be supported with advice on social media and online safety to properly carry out the job, MPs say today.

In a Report published following a pre-appointment hearing with the Government’s preferred candidate yesterday, the DCMS Committee notes Lord Grade’s confirmation that he will play no part in public debates about the future of Channel 4 and the BBC. His commitment to leaving his strong opinions aside, gives the Committee hope that he will be able to act with the strict independence required of the role.

While the Committee is concerned about his lack of knowledge about social media and online safety, it recognises that it would be difficult to find a candidate with deep experience across the whole of Ofcom’s remit and hopes he will receive the necessary advice to fulfil his role.

Following this week’s Report on the appointment of the Charity Commission Chair, the Committee is once again critical of the Department’s approach to recruitment, describing it as a ‘shambles of a process’.

Chair's comments

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:

“Lord Grade impressed during the hearing and clearly has the character and gravitas for the role. He will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the broadcasting sector to the job, but when talking about social media he seemed to be on more shaky ground. While he recognises the importance of Ofcom’s soon-to-be enhanced role in tackling harmful content online, he may need support and advice to make sure he’s up to speed on how the regulator best keeps people safe in the ever-changing online world.

The appointment of Lord Grade as Chair will bring to an end one of the less illustrious chapters in the Department’s recent history. Lessons need to be learnt from this shambles of a process before we can have any confidence in its ability to run effective and impartial public appointment competitions.”

Further information

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