Michael Grade, a former chairman of the BBC and ITV, has been named as the government’s preferred candidate for the role of Ofcom chair.

Lord Grade, 79, who also served as CEO of Channel 4 for nine years, has had a long career in broadcasting.

In May 2004 he was appointed chairman of the BBC, succeeding Gavyn Davies, resigning in November 2006 when his appointment as executive chairman of ITV was announced, a post he relinquished in 2009.

At Channel 4 in the 90s he commissioned controversial late-night programmes The Word, Eurotrash and Dyke TV.

Lord Grade was non-executive chairman of Pinewood and Shepperton Film Studios for 16 years. He is non-executive chairman of Talent Bank and of the production company StoryFirst. He is also on the advisory board of Miroma SET (formerly R4E Plc), a media and entertainment marketing company.

He is the co-founder of the GradeLinnit company, a theatrical production company, having also been chairman of Ocado, First Leisure Corporation, Camelot, the Charity Fundraising Regulator and Bradford’s Media Museum as well as being a member of the former Press Complaints Commission and a trustee of the Science Museum.

In January 2011 he became the Conservative Peer, Lord Grade of Yarmouth. However if he is appointed as Ofcom chair he will move to the cross-benches at the earliest opportunity. Lord Grade would also give up any non-executive roles that could cause a conflict of interest in him becoming Ofcom chair.

I wish I’d been brave enough to find my voice earlier

“I am delighted to announce that Lord Grade is the Government’s preferred candidate to be the new chair of Ofcom,” said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. “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.

“Going forward, Ofcom has an even more important role to play as the UK’s communications regulator. The introduction of the Online Safety Bill will give it new responsibilities and resources to ensure digital platforms tackle illegal and abusive material online. 

“I am confident that under Lord Grade’s leadership Ofcom will rise to the challenge with great success.”


Lord Grade said: “Ofcom is respected across the globe as a first rate communications regulator so I am privileged to be asked to become its chair. 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. 

“I look forward to my appearance in front of the DCMS Select Committee to outline what I can bring to this role and how I can help ensure Ofcom is fit for the future.”

Lord Grade will now appear before MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny.