Two prominent right-wing media critics of the BBC are reportedly in line for jobs as the next president of the public service broadcaster and the head of TV regulator Ofcom.
Former Telegraph editor, and official Margaret Thatcher biographer, Lord Charles Moore is in line to be the next BBC president, while former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre is said to be Boris Johnson’s first choice for Ofcom chairman.
Moore has been a critic of the BBC’s licensing fee in the past, arguing it should be decriminalised, while Dacre has often accused the BBC of being too left-wing.
In 2007, Dacre said the corporation “exercises a kind of cultural Marxism” that “tries to undermine that conservative society”.
The pair have reportedly been wooed by Johnson personally, with both having been asked by the Prime Minister to take up the powerful roles.
Johnson’s Downing Street has been seen as confrontational toward the BBC, with ministers boycotting major programmes such as BBC Radio 4’s Today before the coronavirus pandemic.
Speculation, first reported in the Sunday Times, that the controversial Brexiteers will be appointed to the roles has sparked claims that Downing Street has now declared an all out war on the BBC.
Former Tony Blair communications chief Alastair Campbell, who has had a long-time rivalry with Dacre, said the former Daily Mail editor “represents the worst of British values”.
Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger accused the government of not following due process in the potential hiring of Dacre and Moore.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News that “everyone is getting a little ahead of themselves” about Moore and Dacre, before adding that the BBC did need reform.
He said: “There are three things that I’ve been talking about with the BBC -ensuring there is genuine impartiality…ensuring the BBC is up to the challenges of the future…and ensuring the BBC represents all parts of our nation and not just narrow metro areas.”
“I think they’re working toward it and I think it has made good progress toward it.”
A government spokesman said: “We will launch the application process for the new chair of the BBC shortly. It is an open recruitment process and all public appointments are subject to a robust and fair selection criteria.”