Saturday 26 March 2022

John Simpson, Lord Grade and Ofcom

As discussed on the open thread, the news that Michael Grade - previously controller of BBC1, chief executive of Channel 4, chairman of the BBC and executive chairman of ITV, now a Conservative peer - is to become the new Ofcom chairman prompted a snarky response from senior BBC journalist John Simpson. 

To expand on this, here are all his tweets on the matter, some in response to various left-wing, pro-EU followers [his Twitter fan base by the looks of it]:
John Simpson: Congratulations to Michael Grade on becoming the head of the media regulator, Ofcom. I’m sure his recent criticisms of the BBC licence fee & BBC political coverage had nothing to do with the decision.
Ant: Naughty, Mr. Simpson.
John Simpson: I’m a stirrer by nature…
Parmenion62: No freedom of speech at the BBC now then. All will have to follow the Tory party line. Real shame that we are about to lose something so precious as the BBC.
John Simpson: I can promise you that nothing you’ve said here is true.
John Simpson: Actually I think a lot of people will be greatly relieved that Michael Grade has got the job. He was a good and supportive BBC chairman. And remember the government originally seemed to want Paul Dacre as the head of Ofcom.
Nick Morrell: Not the old trick of making an extreme candidate look less so by first suggesting an ultra-extreme candidate?
John Simpson: No, he’s not in any sense an extreme candidate. And real life isn’t about conspiracies like that.
Nick Morrell: Fairly unserious comment - seems to me the push for Dacre was serious - but still makes it easier to accept a highly-partisan anti-BBC candidate if you've had to face the prospect of a frothing at the mouth alternative.
John Simpson: I understand completely, but Grade isn’t a frother. He just couldn’t resist making the kind of criticisms of the BBC which he knew would help him get the job.

Is John Simpson correct that Lord Grade has been making BBC-critical noises just to get the government's backing for his appointment and that the BBC doesn't really have anything to fear from him?

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