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Rumours of Dacre and Moore to head BBC and Ofcom ‘provocative’ and ‘worrying’

BORIS JOHNSON asking former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre to head Ofcom and former Telegraph editor Charles Moore to chair the BBC is “provocative” and “worrying,” media campaigners and Labour said today.

Their comments came after reports emerged that the PM earmarked the pair for the jobs.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden merely added fuel to the flames when he said that no job offers had been made to the men so far and that there was a formal process for them to go through. He insisted that the government wanted “strong, credible people” to “hold the BBC to account” as well as broadcast regulator Ofcom.

But when asked if the government’s apparent plans for the BBC and Ofcom would be an act of sabotage against the institutions, Barry White of the Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom (North) agreed.

He said: “If, as reported, these stories are true, these are provocative choices by Johnson which will damage both the BBC and threaten the current system of media regulation.

“Both men are hostile to the BBC. Moore does not believe in public-service broadcasting, as shown by his refusal to pay the licence fee and his boasting that he does not watch television.

“Dacre’s record shows that he doesn’t believe in impartiality and effectively regulated media. 

“These proposals have the fingerprints of [Mr Johnson’s special adviser] Dominic Cummings all over them and are as far-fetched as the Vatican appointing [DUP MP] Ian Paisley Jr as the next pope.”

Labour’s shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said government interference in the open processes of appointing heads of BBC and Ofcom was “worrying” and “strange.”

Speaking to Sky News, she queried: “Why is the government interfering in that sort of thing when they should be concentrating on getting a grip on test and trace, keeping coronavirus rates under control and getting the economy back on track?”

She said: “The BBC and Ofcom are integral to our national interest — Ofcom regulates the BBC — they should be free from political interference, they should be impartial, and the stuff that’s being trailed about these appointments is quite worrying.”

Scottish Labour culture spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “BBC and Ofcom are important independent organisations that operate in the interests of viewers and licence-fee payers.

“The process for appointing these roles must be open to all: any ‘coronation’ of friends of the Tory government is unacceptable.”

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