Grade, Dimbleby in running for prexy position

LONDON — TV and film industry veteran Michael Grade and heavyweight TV journalist David Dimbleby are reportedly in the running to become the next chairman of the BBC.

Grade, the former topper of broadcaster Channel 4 who now heads the U.K.’s Pinewood and Shepperton film studios, is an outspoken critic of what he considers the pubcaster’s failings.

Dimbleby is one of the most respected journalists in British TV and has been with the BBC for 40 years. He has anchored the pubcaster’s election coverage since 1979 and hosts BBC1’s political debate show “Question Time.”

Narrowing the list

Earlier this year, Dimbleby sold his family’s 100-year-old local newspaper group, of which he was the sole owner, for a reported £8 million ($11.4 million).

Others up for the job are believed to include BBC vice chairman Gavyn Davies and Baroness Jay, a member of the BBC’s board of governors.

Both Grade and Dimbleby were on the shortlist for BBC director general in 1987, but were beaten by Michael Checkland, then deputy director general.

The candidates will be interviewed by the U.K. government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which will recommend a name to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Current chairman Christopher Bland is leaving the pubcaster at the end of September and has already taken up his new job as chairman of British Telecom.

Meanwhile, former BBC director general John Birt has been appointed a strategic adviser to the prime minister.

Birt, who has a reputation for being a technocrat, is joining the government’s Forward Strategy Unit, whose mandate is to devise radical policies.

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