Media: What challenges await the new BBC chair?

Sir David Clementi Image copyright Getty Images

Sir David Clementi - the author of a report suggesting the BBC Trust be replaced with a board of senior staff and independent members - is recommended as the next BBC chairman, it is understood.

The ex-Bank of England deputy governor's name has been put forward to the prime minister, and an announcement is expected later this week.

If approved in this post, Sir David has one big advantage: he really believes in the system of governance he will now be leading.

In March last year, he wrote an independent review of how the BBC is run, and didn't hold back on its recommendations of reform.

Out went the historic tradition of self-regulation, whereby the BBC fundamentally looked after its own affairs to ensure independence from government.

Image caption The BBC needs to find hundreds of millions in savings

In came a transfer of responsibility to Ofcom, the public service broadcaster, which will now be responsible for ensuring the same independence from government.

Of course, there is no suggestion that Sir David was angling for the job when he suggested it be created. He has had a distinguished career in finance.

If he gets it, his is not an easy task. Making any new governance structure work is not easy.

Doing it for an organisation the size of the BBC is even harder. And the BBC will be looking to Sir David to offer a very robust defence of its independence from government.

Another way of putting that is: a fight with the government is inevitable, and Sir David's role in that fight will be closely watched.

Beyond that, the BBC faces several huge challenges.

Ultimately these are for director general Tony Hall to meet, together with his senior team. But Sir David will be expected to offer excellent support.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Netflix can pose a challenge to the BBC with hugely popular shows like The Crown

Foremost among these challenges is funding. The BBC needs to find hundreds of millions in savings now that it is paying for TV licences for elderly members of its audience.

In news, the BBC has to innovate to meet the digital demands of a new generation of consumers.

And in entertainment, where it has long been used to being the biggest beast in the jungle, there are new predators stalking the undergrowth, from Netflix to Amazon Prime.

Of course, Sir David hasn't yet got the job. The prime minister needs to approve his role, and he will be scrutinised by the Culture, Media and Sport Select committee next week.

But if he is successful, those will be just the first challenges he faces in a daunting role.