Home Business Ofsted chief Spielman makes grade onto BBC chair shortlist

Ofsted chief Spielman makes grade onto BBC chair shortlist

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Amanda Spielman, who leaves Ofsted next month after nearly seven years in the job, is being considered as Richard Sharp’s long-term successor at the public service broadcaster, Sky News can reveal.
City editor
Monday 20 November 2023 14:59, UK
The outgoing chief of Ofsted is among the candidates for one of the biggest jobs in British broadcasting after being included on the shortlist to chair the BBC.
Sky News has learnt that Amanda Spielman, who has spent nearly seven years as the education watchdog’s chief inspector, is in the frame to replace Richard Sharp as the Corporation’s long-term chairman.
Industry sources said that Ms Spielman was one of about eight contenders for the job, with the preferred candidate subject to sign-off from the prime minister.
Her involvement in the process will come as a surprise given that her recent career has been spent in regulating aspects of Britain’s education sector.
Prior to Ofsted, Ms Spielman chaired the exam regulator, Ofqual, for five years, before which she had spent 15 years in finance, strategy and consulting roles.
She is also a trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum, while Samir Shah, one of the other contenders for the BBC chairmanship, has also served on the board of the London museum.
Ms Spielman is due to leave Ofsted next month, and in a recent interview with The Times said that the fact that she had not been a teacher had not hindered her work there.
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„Nobody expects the chief executive of CAA to have been a pilot or the chief executive of the Office of Rail and Road to be a train driver or a lorry driver,” she told the newspaper.
Sky News revealed earlier this month that Mr Shah was also on the shortlist for the job.
He has more of a media pedigree, having been on the board of the BBC and spent decades in television programme-making.
The search for a successor to Mr Sharp, who resigned in April amid a row over his role in helping to facilitate a six-figure loan to Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, is expected to be concluded in the next few months.
Interviews for the post recently got under way, with more than a handful of contenders still in the frame to take on one of the most prestigious posts in the British media industry.
A number of prominent business and media figures have, however, declined to apply.
Sir Damon Buffini, the deputy chairman and chair of the BBC’s commercial arm, was expected to be the frontrunner for the job, but is reported not to have thrown his hat into the ring.
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Other prominent media executives, including Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former ITV chairman, have publicly ruled themselves out.
Dame Elan Closs Stephens, the acting chair, is thought to be in the frame to take the post on a permanent basis.
The appointment of Mr Sharp’s long-term successor will come at a sensitive time for the BBC, which has been plunged into a series of crises this year involving current and former presenters – including the newsreader Huw Edwards and Russell Brand.
It has also been grappling with a long-running challenge over the impartiality guidelines to which it expects its broadcasters – such as the Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker – to adhere.
Those sensitivities are likely to become even more acute during the next year with a general election on the horizon.
Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, is grappling with longer-term questions about the corporation’s future funding model, with recent culture secretaries such as Nadine Dorries having signalled the end of the licence fee after 2027.
The broadcaster has been forced to implement significant cost cuts affecting parts of its news and current affairs output, including long-running programmes such as BBC 2’s Newsnight.
Saxton Bampfylde, the headhunter, is overseeing the search for the BBC chair.
A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesman declined to comment.
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