Boris Johnson is poised to appoint Paul Dacre as Ofcom chair, and offer him a peerage, it has been revealed.
According to Whitehall and media source, Johnson is preparing to announce the appointment soon and will give Dacre a remit to target the BBC.
Dacre stepped down as Daily Mail editor in 2018 but is still the editor in chief of the Daily Mail Group, publisher of the daily newspaper and the Mail on Sunday, the London free title Metro and the MailOnline website.
Some in the industry oppose the idea. “This is an appalling idea,” said one leading figure in British TV management. “A key role for Ofcom in the coming months will be focusing on improving the nation’s broadband, which is vital not just for business but for social inclusion. Dacre knows nothing about any of that.”
When Dacre’s candidacy was touted last summer, former Labour minister Lord Adonis said back then that Dacre “demonstrably doesn’t believe in impartially and statutorily regulated media”.
A date for the announcement has yet been set while it is believed the prime minister continues to face some resistance within government circles, the Observer reports.
The permanent appointment to the role of Ofcom chair has been held open since early last year, when economist Lord Burns announced he was stepping down.
Burns is believed to have tussled with the prime minister over the appointment of a new Ofcom chief executive. Eventually, he agreed to leave in order to get his own choice of Melanie Dawes.
Dawes stepped across from her high-ranking civil service job in February last year.
It comes as Richard Sharp’s appointment as the next BBC chairman was approved by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee earlier this month.
It followed reports that ex-Daily Telegraph editor and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, Lord Moore, was in line for the job.