IPA gives Grade a cautious welcome

The IPA has given a cautious welcome to Michael Grade's appointment as the next chairman of the BBC.

Although acknowledging the fact that Grade is a popular choice, capable of rebuilding morale at the Corporation, the IPA urged him to abandon the populist approach championed by his predecessor, Gavyn Davies, and the former director-general, Greg Dyke.

Jim Marshall, the chairman of the IPA's Media Futures Group, said: "Michael is a consummate professional but, in the past, he has also been a populist as regards programming. After the competitiveness of Dyke, the BBC must return to a stricter and more tightly focused public service remit - it remains to be seen if Michael Grade has the appetite to do this."

Grade is a former chief executive of Channel 4, director of programmes at LWT and controller of BBC1.

Critics point out that during his time at Channel 4 he was responsible for introducing low-brow programmes such as The Word. However, at LWT he was also a champion of The South Bank Show.

One of Grade's first tasks is to appoint a new director-general. Mark Thompson, the chief executive of Channel 4, has emerged as a frontrunner.

Reports suggest that he planned to apply for the job after waiting to see who would emerge as the new chairman.

In the longer term, the IPA has called for Grade's role to be abolished.

As part of its submission to the Departure of Culture, Media and Sport, the body recommended that the BBC's board of governors should be disbanded in favour of a board of executive directors, which would be answerable to Ofcom.

Grade takes up his post on 17 May. Until then, Richard Ryder will remain as the acting chairman.

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