The controversial former Editor of The Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, is reportedly set to become the Chair of Ofcom, the UK’s regulator of telecommunications.
According to Whitehall sources, Boris Johnson plans not only to appoint Dacre, but later to award him with a peerage.
Dacre’s potential appointment could be part of a Government plan to reform the BBC. This may be in response to critics claiming the BBC is out of touch with large parts of the British public.
Dacre is a strong advocate for Brexit and his support for this largely influenced the position of The Daily Mail during his tenure as editor. He left the post in 2018, saying that “support for Brexit is in the DNA of both The Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers”.
Many of his critics have concluded that appointing Dacre would be incompatible with Ofcom’s political neutrality. Former Labour Minister Lord Adonis said that Dacre “demonstrably doesn’t believe in impartially and statutorily regulated media”, when the latter’s candidacy was hinted at. He implied that the appointment would undermine the purpose of Ofcom.
The coup continues, right before us, and my fear is that we are just letting it happen https://t.co/y9qPTbqxt4
— Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) January 31, 2021
Associates of Mr Dacre have also suggested that he is sceptical of “big tech companies” like Facebook and Google, which have allegedly destroyed the advertising market that traditional media relies upon and whose political censorship has recently gained widespread attention.
One promise made by the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election campaign was to reform the BBC. Mr Johnson’s government has now set up a Government panel to consider the future of public broadcasting. Dacre’s appointment may be another way for the Prime Minister to attempt to fulfil this election promise.