Embargo: Immediate Thursday 17 May 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The newly formed House of Lords Communications Committee has today announced it will be holding public hearings on the role and appointment of the BBC Chairman, and will next week take evidence on this issue from Michael Grade.

The Committee, which is chaired by Lord Fowler, has been formed to look at the broad range of broadcasting and communications issues. The Committee has decided that its first inquiry will be into the appointment, conditions of service and role of the Chairman of the BBC trust.

Over three sessions the Committee will take evidence from Michael Grade; his successor as BBC Chairman, Sir Michael Lyons; the Director General of the BBC Mark Thompson; and the Minister for Broadcasting, Shaun Woodward MP.

The inquiry will look at the process of appointment of the new Chairman of the BBC Trust Sir Michael Lyons, the Committee will consider whether the process is open enough to scrutiny and whether Parliament should play a greater role in future appointments of BBC Trust Chairmen.

The first public evidence session will be held on Wednesday 23 May in Committee Room 4A of the House of Lords. The witnesses are:

10:00am - Michael Grade, Chairman ITV

11:15am - Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary

Lord Fowler, who previously Chaired the House of Lords Committee on BBC Charter Review, said:

"This new Committee has been formed to look at issues surrounding communications and the media. Our examination of the appointment and role of the BBC Chairman is a natural follow up to our work on the charter review

"We will examine the process by which the Chairman is appointed and whether the appointment should be scrutinised by Parliament. We will want to look at the terms of service and contract of the new Chairman. We also want to know how the Chairman sees his role and to what extent he has become a regulator."

Notes to Editors

1. Future public evidence sessions include:

  • Wednesday 6 June

10.45am - Shaun Woodward MP, Minister for Broadcasting, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

  • Wednesday 13 June

10.45am - Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust & Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC

2. Full details of the new Lords Committee on Communications including terms of reference of this inquiry and the Committees remit can be found at:

3. The members of the new House of Lords Committee on Communications are:

Lord Fowler (Chairman)

Lord King of Bridgwater

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury

The Bishop of Manchester

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Maxton

Baroness Eccles of Moulton

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick

Baroness Scott of Needham Market

Baroness Howe of Idlicote

Baroness Thornton