Michael Grade, critic of 'woke brigade' and licence fee, chosen as Ofcom chairman

Lord Grade, 79, said he was "privileged" to be the preferred candidate for the role


Michael Grade, a critic of the “woke brigade” and licence fee, has been chosen as Ofcom chairman.

Conservative peer Lord Grade of Yarmouth was named as the Government’s preferred candidate last night following a two-year recruitment process.

The broadcasting veteran, 79, said he was "privileged" to be asked into the role where he will work three days a week for a £142,500 per year salary.

He said: "The role of Ofcom in British life has never been more important with new responsibilities on the horizon regulating online safety, on top of the ever-changing broadcasting landscape."

Lord Michael Grade
Lord Michael Grade
Lord Grade of Yarmouth
Lord Grade of Yarmouth

As part of the position, the TV executive will be in charge of ensuring online safety for children and will need to police social media platforms such as Google and Facebook.

Lord Grade has been an outspoken critic of both the BBC and the cancel culture generation.

In an interview with the Telegraph last year, he praised the actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox as “a voice for those of us who are so sick of the intolerance”.

He added: “I respect people’s points of view, I just don’t respect the tone in which they do it, the woke brigade.”

More recently, he called the BBC's licence fee a “regressive tax” and slammed their "aggressive, gleeful and disrespectful" political coverage, in a Telegraph interview last month.

He said: "There seems to be a sense at the BBC that if you ask difficult questions politely, your colleagues are going to say: ‘You let him or her off the hook’. It’s a macho culture. It’s unnecessary and I don’t like it.”

Speaking in the House of Lords in January, Lord Grade dismissed calls from BBC bosses for more money to protect key services.

He said: "I wish those in the BBC who asked for more money from the Government would watch their own news bulletins and see what is going on, with people having to decide whether to heat or eat, and the increased use of food banks."

The former chief of Channel 4 and BBC will sit before the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee before being formally appointed chairman.

Civil servants previously blocked Downing Street's first choice, former Daily Mail editor Paul Drace.

If the appointment is approved by MPs, he will move to the cross-benches and give up any non-executive roles that could be a conflict of interest.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: "Lord Grade's experience at the highest level of a number of broadcasters and his expert knowledge of the British media landscape makes him an ideal candidate for this role."

She added: "I am confident that under Lord Grade's leadership, Ofcom will rise to the challenge with great success."

Other contenders shortlisted for the position were thought to be Conservative peers Ed Vaizey and Stephen Gilbert.