Rona Fairhead to stand down as BBC chair

BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead (pictured) is set to step down from her post a year earlier than expected after learning the UK government is looking to appoint the chair of a new, unitary BBC board.
September 13, 2016

BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead is set to step down from her post a year earlier than expected.

The announcement comes after British Prime Minister Theresa May informed the BBC that the UK government would re-initiate the process to appoint the first chair of a new, unitary BBC board for a four-year term.

Fairhead (pictured) was appointed to lead the Trust in October 2014 and was expected to stay in the role until 2018 in order to shepherd the UK pubcaster through an overhaul to its Royal Charter, including scrapping the BBC Trust next year in favor of the single board.

She now says she will remain in the post only until the BBC Trust is abolished in early 2017. The changes also include the appointment of external media and telecommunications regulator Ofcom to handle investigations and editorial complaints.

Fairhead said her decision to leave comes “after much thought.

“It is my belief that it will be better to have a clean break and for the government to appoint someone new, and for me to continue my career in the private sector as I had always planned to do after my existing term ended in 2018,” she said in a statement.

“I am proud of what I and my colleagues, both at the Trust and the BBC, have accomplished during the past two years. I believe the draft Charter will secure the strong, confident and independent BBC that the public want and deserve.

BBC director general Tony Hall also released a statement in reaction to Fairhead’s announcement. In it, he praised the chair for her “real contribution to BBC and at a really important time for us.

“On behalf of all the staff, I’d like to thank her for that and wish her the very best for the future. We will continue to work together in the interests of licence fee payers until the new governance arrangements are in place,” he added.

Fairhead will not be seeking any notice period, ex gracia or other such payments, said a spokesperson for the BBC Trust.

The news is yet another blow to the BBC, which earlier this week lost the contractual rights to the hit culinary competition series The Great British Bake Off to competing UK pubcaster Channel 4.

The commercial channel, however, will be without Bake Off hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins who quit on Tuesday ahead of the series move.

“We were very shocked and saddened to learn yesterday evening that Bake Off will be moving from its home,” Giedroyc and Perkins, who have hosted the cookery smash for seven seasons, said in a statement. “We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was.

“We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success,” the statement reads.


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