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    29 November, 2006

    Michael Grade is a disgrace

    My Rhondda colleague, Chris Bryant MP, is absolutely right to call in the Daily Telegraph today for there to be a 'cooling off' period before a BBC Chairman can move to a rival broadcaster. I said the same thing in the National Assembly yesterday, during the Queen's Speech debate, because I wanted a member of the Cabinet to hear the point. The Chairmanship of the BBC is a major public appointment, like few other jobs in broadcasting. Rules should be drafted to prevent the next Chairman and their successors from being allowed to flounce off to a rival broadcaster. These rules can be easily determined from looking at the classes of licence awarded by regulators. I suggest a period of two years would be the right length of time.

    What Michael Grade has done is disgraceful. BBC Director-General Mark Thompson calls it disappointing but also 'very Michael'. He is right about that. Grade is one of the most self-indulgent people in a self-indulgent industry. That's not to say he isn't a witty performer, a showman and a great populist broadcaster. I have seen him at Edinburgh Television festivals and Cambridge Royal Television Society conventions, where he has been funny and charismatic. As BBC Chairman he was uncharacteristically subdued. I heard him make one of the most boring speeches imaginable in Cardiff last year when he was obviously being policed by the BBC.

    But it's all 'me' with Michael. His opposition to the privatisation of Channel Four appeared to spring from a belief that it was 'his' channel. (I am also against the privatisation of Channel Four, but on public service grounds). He should never have been appointed Chairman of the BBC. I hope they give the job to a grown-up next time, not a spoilt child. Surely it is time for the first woman to get the job?

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.