Former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp has been appointed the new Chairman of the BBC and will assume his £160,000 a year role next month. The former Tory party donor was grilled on his future role by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Thursday.
Appearing before MPs, Mr Sharp defended the BBC’s coverage of Brexit since the EU referendum in 2016.
The 64-year-old told the panel he was “considered to be a Brexiteer” and pointed out there may have been some instances where the representation of views on the BBC were one-sided.
He highlighted the flagship political programme Question Time as an example, but said the overall coverage on the BBC had been “incredibly balanced”.
His response has been questioned by leading backbench Tory MP David Davis.
In a post on Twitter, the former Brexit Secretary said: “The new BBC Chairman thinks its Brexit coverage was unbiased?
“But then he is a London banker.”
Mr Davis added: “He also thinks the license fee is ‘terrific value!’ By what measure?
“The BBC is one of the most wasteful organisations I know of. I fear that this is a wrong appointment. I cannot see what qualifies him for the job.”
“We urgently need to champion and recommit to impartiality.”
Mr Sharp also spoke about the BBC licence fee model and described it as the “the least worst” method of funding, but suggested other ways could be implemented.
The £157.50 licence fee is due to stay in place until at least 2027, when the BBC’s Royal Charter ends.
Mr Sharp: “The question is, ‘Is the BBC value for money?’ Yes, it is. How do we raise that money? That is certainly an issue.
“I happen to be satisfied looking at it in a relatively superficial way that the current process is fit for purpose.”
At the committee meeting, Mr Sharp disclosed that he had donated approximately £400,000 to the Conservatives in the past 20 years, plus £2,500 around the time of the last general election.
He also pledged to donate his six-figure salary from the BBC to charity.
Mr Sharp will officially replace Sir David Clementi in the position in February.