UK prime minister Boris Johnson is set to appoint former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre as the chair of broadcast regulator Ofcom.
News first circulated linking Dacre to the job in September 2020, but a new report from The Guardian claims that the outspoken champion of Brexit could be announced soon.
The 72-year-old Dacre, currently editor in chief of Daily Mail Group, has made no secret of his right-wing politics during his career. This is likely to put him in conflict with the politically neutral position of Ofcom.
While the government recently dropped its plans to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee, critics have said that Dacre’s appointment would be a continuation of the prime minister’s long-term plan to radically reshape the face of broadcasting in the country. The report specifically states that Dacre will be handed a remit “to target the BBC.”
The left-leaning Guardian cited one ‘leading figure in British TV management’ who called the appointment “an appalling idea,” while also making reference to comments from former Labour minister Lord Adonis who said that Dacre “doesn’t believe in impartiality and statutorily regulated media.”
Along with looking to reform the funding model of the BBC, members of Johnson’s government have been highly critical of the broadcaster. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden last year launched a political attack on the BBC, telling the crowd at a Telegraph-arranged conference that the broadcaster lacks “diversity of thought” and “genuine impartiality.”
While Johnson is said to be rushing through with the appointment of Dacre, the report says that there is still some resistance to the appointment from within the government.
Should he be appointed, Dacre will be tasked with picking apart the BBC which itself has received a Tory-supporting chairman in the form of Richard Sharp. Sharp, who will take up the job in the coming days, has been a historic donor to the Conservative party to the tune of more than £400,000.