New Ofcom leader Lord Grade may need help tackling social media, MPs conclude

New Ofcom leader Lord Michael Grade will bring “considerable experience and knowledge of the media sector”, according to MPs, but may need help tackling social media and online safety.

The 79-year-old Conservative peer and media executive appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee for pre-appointment consideration on Thursday, after the government announced him as its preferred candidate to head the media watchdog.

A report issued after the hearing concluded that Lord Grade was committed to “putting aside his strong opinions and resisting political pressure”, giving the committee hope that he will act independently in this role.

Lord Grade has previously advocated the privatization of Channel 4 and recently criticized the BBC’s coverage of events such as the Downing Street parties as “malicious and disrespectful”.

However, the bipartisan group said it was “concerned” by the candidate’s “clear lack of depth” when it came to social media.

Lord Grade admitted to MPs on Thursday that he doesn’t use Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, but claimed he understood “the dynamics”.

The report added: “However, it seems to understand the importance of Ofcom’s new role in regulating the online space.

“It would be difficult to find a candidate with extensive experience across Ofcom’s remit and we hope he will be well supported with the necessary advice to fulfill his role as Chair.”

Lord Grade impressed throughout the hearing and clearly has the character and gravity for the roleCommittee Chairman Julian Knight

Concerns have also been raised about the diversity department’s commitment to making such appointments – the shortlist of nine candidates included three women, one candidate who identified herself as Bame and one candidate with a declared disability.

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Committee Chair Julian Knight said: “Lord Grade impressed during the hearing and clearly has the character and gravity for the role.

“He will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge from the broadcast sector to the job, but when it came to social media he seemed on shaky ground.

“While recognizing the importance of Ofcom’s soon-to-be-expanded role in tackling harmful online content, he may need support and advice to ensure he is up to date on how the regulator is helping people in the ever-changing online world. world best protects. ”

The committee also criticized the selection process as a “mess”, raising “major concern” about the department’s ability to conduct “effective and impartial” public selection processes.

During his career, Lord has been the Grade Controller of BBC One, Chief Executive of Channel 4, Chairman of the BBC and Executive Chairman of ITV.

He currently sits as a Conservative peer in the House of Lords, having been appointed by David Cameron in 2011.

If confirmed as Ofcom chairman, he will move to the cross-banks and relinquish any non-executive roles that could create a conflict of interest. New Ofcom leader Lord Grade may need help tackling social media, MPs conclude

Fry Electronics Team

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