BBC chairman: Samir Shah set to be announced as firm's new chair - who is he?

Samir Shah, who has spent decades working in TV, is set to be announced as the new chairman of the BBC
Samir Shah, who is likely to be the incoming chairman of the BBC Picture: http://gov.uk/Samir Shah, who is likely to be the incoming chairman of the BBC Picture: http://gov.uk/
Samir Shah, who is likely to be the incoming chairman of the BBC Picture: http://gov.uk/

A former BBC board member who has spent decades working in TV is set to become the new chair of the BBC, according to the Financial Times. Samir Shah has had a 40-year career in TV and previously served as a BBC non-executive director in 2007.

According to the paper he is set to become the new chair of the corporation after the former chair Richard Sharp stepped down in spring. Sharp resigned after being found to have breached public appointment rules for failing to declare a connection to a secret £800,000 loan for the UK’s former prime minister Boris Johnson.

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While this breach of the rules does not necessarily invalidate his appointment to the role at the public service broadcaster, Sharp said his position was no longer tenable. He stepped down officially in June and speculation rose about who would take his place. Names such as broadcaster Muriel Gray, financier Damon Buffini, and Robbie Gibb, a board member who was previously Theresa May’s communications chief, were all rumoured to being the possible next BBC chair.

Samir Shah, who is likely to be the incoming chairman of the BBC Picture: http://gov.uk/Samir Shah, who is likely to be the incoming chairman of the BBC Picture: http://gov.uk/
Samir Shah, who is likely to be the incoming chairman of the BBC Picture: http://gov.uk/

The new BBC chair will be taking over following a sensitive time for the corporation after a series of crises including Huw Edwards and Russell Brand. Concerns have also been raised over recent days over its licence fee with Rishi Sunak urging the broadcaster to be “realistic” with what households can pay amid the cost of living crisis.

This week a group of influential senior figures in regional media - in a move signed up to and strongly backed by NationalWorld - launched a broadside against the BBC, arguing its plan to move into more local journalism was the act of a "nuisance neighbour" and a move which could irrevocably destroy the historic but fragile infrastructure of local news.

Here we take a look at who Samir Shah is in more detail. The BBC has yet to confirm if Shah is in fact the new chair of the BBC. This article will be updated with the latest information. NationalWorld has contacted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for comment. 

Who is Samir Shah?

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Dr Shah initially joined the BBC in 1987 to oversee its current affairs output on TV, before going on to run its political programming from Westminster. He left the Corporation in 1998 to run Juniper, an independent television and radio production company, where he remains chief executive.

Between 2007 and 2010, he sat on the BBC board as a non-executive director. He is currently a Commissioner for the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

He has served as a trustee and deputy chair of the V&A, a non-executive director on the BBC Board and is current chair of One World Media. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 2002 and, in 2019, was the visiting professor of Creative Media at Oxford University (Faculty of English).

Dr Shah is a member of the Nuffield Foundation Steering Group: Inequality in the Twenty First Century and The Deaton Review. He was also notably chair of the independent race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust for two decades and was a member of the Holocaust Commission. In 2019 he was awarded a CBE for services to Television and Heritage.

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