- The 71-year-old has previously held a series of roles at the broadcaster, including as its head of current affairs.
British Indian TV executive Samir Shah is poised to be appointed as the next chair of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The broadcaster announced the Aurangabad-born Shah as “the government’s choice” on Dec. 6. The 71-year-old has previously held a series of roles at the BBC, including as its head of current affairs. He is currently chief executive of Juniper, an independent production company, that supplies programs to the BBC, as well as other organizations including Channel 4, Netflix, and National Geographic.
As chairman, Shah will be in charge “of upholding and protecting the BBC’s independence and ensuring the BBC fulfills its mission to inform, educate and entertain,” the BBC reported. He will also “lead negotiations with the government over the future of the license fee,” the press release added.
His appointment comes months after Richard Sharp’s resignation in April, “after breaking rules over dealings with Boris Johnson ahead of his appointment,” according to The Guardian. The chairman’s job is “a three-days-a-week position, which pays a salary of £160,000.,” the publication adds. Before being confirmed, Shah “will be questioned by a cross-party group of MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee,” at a hearing expected to be held this week, the report added.
In a statement, Shah called BBC “one of the greatest contributions we have made to global culture and one of our strongest calling cards on soft power.” He said he will do all he can to ensure that BBC continues to maintain its “great place in British life and a unique duty to reach a wide audience right across the country.”
Shah has worked in TV for over 40 years, starting at London Weekend Television in 1979. Since then, he has held positions as the BBC’s head of television current affairs and later went on to head the corporation’s political journalism across radio and television. In 2007, he was appointed as a non-executive director on the BBC Board.
In 2021, he co-authored the 2021 Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, “which was accused of downplaying the effects of discrimination,” The Guardian reported.
Shah moved to England in 1960 and attended Latymer Upper School, an independent school in West London, and then got a geography degree from the University of Hull. He studied for a Doctor of Philosophy degree at St Catherine’s College, Oxford and the Faculty of Anthropology and Geography, University of Oxford, which he completed in 1979.
Shah’s brother Mohit Bakaya is a senior commissioning editor for BBC Radio 4, while his sister Monisha Shah is director for emerging territories for BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster’s commercial arm. His wife Bell’s Bhegani is the director of Talent Management at Juniper. The two live in Wandsworth, south-west London.