24 March 2022

Lord Grade: Veteran executive has held top-level posts across broadcast media

24 March 2022

The new Ofcom chief Michael Grade has held a number of senior positions at UK broadcasters after starting his career with a brief stint in sports journalism.

Since the mid-1980s, the 79-year-old has served as controller of BBC One, chief executive of Channel 4, chairman of the BBC and executive chairman of ITV plc.

His father was the theatrical agent, Leslie Grade, and his uncles were the influential impresarios Lew Grade and Bernard Delfont.

Lord Grade was educated at the fee-paying Stowe School in Buckinghamshire.

Lord Grade has been appointed the new head of Ofcom (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

After a short stint at the Daily Mirror as a sports columnist in the 1960s, he moved into the theatrical business and worked for London Management & Representation.

Comedy duo Morecambe and Wise and TV presenter Larry Grayson were among his early clients.

Lord Grade entered the television industry in 1973 when he joined London Weekend Television, the ITV network franchise holder for the Greater London area.

He joined the BBC in the summer of 1984 and was made controller of BBC One later that year, before going on to other senior positions at the UK’s major broadcasters.

Lord Grade is also co-founder of GradeLinnit, a theatrical production company, and has also served as chairman of Ocado, First Leisure Corporation, Camelot, the Charity Fundraising Regulator and Bradford’s Media Museum.

Elsewhere, he has been a member of the former Press Complaints Commission and a trustee of the Science Museum.

Lord Grade currently sits as a Conservative peer in the House of Lords after being appointed by David Cameron in 2011.

Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was in the running for the job (Iain Crockart/DMGT/PA) (PA Archive)

The former media executive, who was chief executive of Channel 4 between 1988 and 1997, has spoken in favour of privatising the broadcaster.

He told the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee in October that its current remit is a “straitjacket” that needs updating before the broadcaster “succumbs to the inevitable decline”.

In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, he also criticised the BBC’s coverage of events such as the Downing Street parties as “gleeful and disrespectful”.

In January, ministers announced they were reopening the recruitment process for the £142,500 three-day-a-week job of Ofcom chair.

It came after former Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre, withdrew from the race, claiming the civil service had influenced the process because of his right-of-centre “convictions”.

Mr Dacre had reportedly been Boris Johnson’s preferred choice during the initial interviews.

Lord (Charles) Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and Lord Gilbert of Panteg, former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and life peer, were also previously touted as contenders for the role.

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