Lord Patten 'preferred candidate' for BBC Trust chairman

Lord Patten has been confirmed as the Government’s ‘preferred candidate’to become the next chairman of the BBC Trust.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport issued a statement this afternoon detailing how Patten, who is currently Chancellor of Oxford University, had been selected to replace Sir Michael Lyons when he concludes his single four-year term of office in May.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt recommended Patten, who is a former Conservative Party chairman and former Governor of Hong Kong, to David Cameron as Lyons’ successor.

Speculation about who would replace Lyons has been rife since he announced in September that he would not seek a second four-year term as the role had become too demanding of his time.

Sixty-six year-old Patten emerged as the frontrunner to take on the £110,000-a-year, four-day a week role after prospective candidates were interviewed last month.

The former editor of the Financial Times, Sir Richard Lambert, was seen as Patten’s closest rival for the job until early this month.

Patten will now undergo a ‘pre-appointment hearing’with the media select committee, the DCMS said today, before he is approved as Lyons’ replacement.

‘Following an open recruitment exercise, Lord Patten, former Governor of Hong Kong, former Government Minister and currently Chancellor of Oxford University, has been selected as the Government’s preferred candidate for appointment to the role of Chairman of the BBC Trust, in succession to Sir Michael Lyons,’a DCMS statement said this afternoon.

‘The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has written to John Whittingdale OBE MP, Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

‘The Committee will hold a pre-appointment hearing with Lord Patten on 10 March.

‘The Committee’s conclusions will be considered carefully before deciding whether or not to proceed with the appointment.”

If, as expected, Patten is appointed as the new chairman of the BBC he will face a full in-box as he moves into the difficult job of acting as both cheerleader of, and judge over, the corporation’s activities.

In addition to the political difficulties he is likely to face, Patten will oversee the corporation during a period of extreme belt-tightening.

The licence fee has been frozen at its current level until 2016, while the BBC has been forced to take on a series of additional costs effectively reducing its budget by around 20 per cent annually.

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