Britain is to name former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp as the next chairman of the BBC, tasked with agreeing a long-term funding model for the broadcaster at a time of increasing competition and political scrutiny.
Sharp is a former donor to the Conservative Party and worked with finance minister Rishi Sunak at Goldman Sachs, according to a BBC news report. He has recently been advising Sunak.
The chairman, who is officially appointed by the queen on the recommendation of the government, is responsible for upholding and protecting the independence of the BBC, which is funded by a license fee paid by every TV-watching household.
The appointment was first reported by Sky News. It has also been reported by the BBC itself. The government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport declined to comment.
The new chairman will join the broadcaster as it faces some of the biggest threats to its future since it was founded 98 years ago.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has voiced skepticism about the license fee at a time when the BBC’s TV audiences are shrinking and streaming services like Netflix are growing in popularity.
Sharp will succeed David Clementi, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, who is stepping down next month after four years. Clementi received a fee of 100,000 pounds a year, according to the BBC.
A committee of lawmakers that oversees the work of the government department said it was disappointing to see news of the appointment leak.
“The committee previously expressed some concerns over the appointments process, calling for it to be fair and transparent,” Chair Julian Knight said in a statement.
A review of the BBC’s funding is due in 2022 before its royal charter needs to be renewed in 2027.
The BBC is often accused of bias by critics from both ends of the political spectrum. While some Conservatives perceive it to be London-centric and left-leaning, those on the left of the opposition Labour Party see it as biased against them.
Clementi confirmed he would step down in June when he announced the appointment of Tim Davie as the new director-general of the broadcaster.
Davie is editor in chief, responsible for the BBC’s content across television, radio, and online services, as well as leading its operations.