Sir Michael Lyons (pictured), the Labour councillor and chief executive of Birmingham City Council, has today (Thursday) been confirmed as the new BBC Trust chairman. He takes over the role from Michael Grade, who defected to rival broadcaster ITV late last year.
Lyons, who takes over the role on May 1, says he will “never lose sight” of the public’s core expectations of editorial independence and “quality” programmes.
He adds: “As the BBC’s sovereign body, [the Trust’s] duty is to ensure the public who pay for the BBC retain overall control of their BBC.”
Lyons is professor of public policy at Birmingham University. He is a former chief executive of three city councils – Wolverhampton, Nottingham and Birmingham, with little broadcasting experience except a stint as a director of the now defunct Central TV, part of the ITV network. He also conducted a review of the relocation of Whitehall jobs commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown.
The £140,000 a year post of chairman of the BBC Trust, advertised in January, is thought to have attracted 23 applicants although big names such as broadcaster David Dimbleby and former film producer Lord David Puttnam ruled themselves out of the race.
Grade announced he was defecting to become executive chairman of rival broadcaster ITV in November last year and took over the role in January. He took over from ITV chief executive Charles Allen who was effectively ousted by shareholders disappointed at the commercial broadcaster’s poor performance.