Who is Samir Shah, Indian-origin Media Executive Set to Become New BBC Chairman | Top Points

Last Updated: December 07, 2023, 18:16 IST

Samir Shah previously served as a non-executive director at the broadcaster. (Credits: UK Govt)

Born in Aurangabad, Samir Shah came to England in 1960 and was previously the head of current affairs and political programmes at the BBC

The UK government has named India-born media executive Samir Shah as its preferred candidate to take over as the new BBC chairman.

71-year-old Shah, born in Aurangabad, has over 40 years of experience in TV production and journalism.

He will replace Richard Sharp, who was forced to resign after his communication with former prime minister Boris Johnson came under scrutiny.

Here is all you need to know about Dr Samir Shah:

  • Born in Aurangabad, Samir Shah came to England in 1960 and was previously the head of current affairs and political programmes at the BBC.
  • He has been the CEO and owner of Juniper, an independent television and radio production company and also served as a non-executive director of the BBC between 2007 and 2010.
  • He has been honoured with a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2019 for services to television and heritage.
  • Shah will now be quizzed by cross-party MPs of the House of Commons Media Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny before formally taking charge of the public service broadcaster.
  • “With a career spanning more than 40 years in TV production and journalism, Dr Shah has a wealth of experience to bring to the position of BBC Chair,” UK Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has said.
  • Besides, the Oxford University alumnus is a race relations expert who co-authored the government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report in 2021.
  • Recently, he was named on a three-member panel set up by the government to independently review the unrest that took place in the city of Leicester last year, as community groups clashed in the aftermath of an India-Pakistan cricket match.
  • As BBC chairman, a three-day-a-week role with an annual salary of 160,000 pounds, Shah will be responsible for upholding and protecting the taxpayer-funded licence fee-operated public broadcaster and ensuring it fulfils its mission to “inform, educate and entertain”. He will also lead negotiations with the government over the future of the licence fee.
  • Shah’s selection marks a sea change, as it means there will now be a journalist at the top of the BBC. Although the BBC is politically independent, its chairperson is appointed by the government.
  • His appointment comes at a challenging time for the BBC, which is looking to make 500 million pounds of savings in the face of high inflation and a two-year freeze on the cost of a TV licence. Shah’s half-brother, Mohit Bakaya, is also a BBC veteran as controller of BBC Radio 4.

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