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Will Lord Puttnam end up at the BBC?

publication date: Dec 22, 2006
author/source: R Taylor

With Michael Grade’s move to ITV, Lord Puttnam has been one of the short odds favourites to take over his role as Chairman at the newly established BBC Trust.

In UK education there are few more influential people than Lord Puttnam. He is Chair of the Teaching Awards, Deputy Chair at Channel 4, and Chancellor of the Open University and the University of Sunderland.

Would his appointment be a problem for the Teaching Awards, as the BBC is in effect their broadcast sponsor? This would give the TA access and influence at the highest level in the nation’s major media outlet, but may also be a disadvantage if Lord Puttnam has to absent himself from any decisions that might impact on the TA or his other educational roles.

This is all happening at the same time as C4 are recruiting a number two to Janey Walker, who will commission all new media content, run the TV schedule and possibly even commission all new educational television content.

It will also be interesting to see what role Lord Puttnam will play in News Corp’s investment in ITV. He previously jointly chaired the scrutiny committee looking at the Communications Bill (2002) and his involvement was seen as being driven by a desire to stop Rupert Murdoch owning C5. News Corp is rumoured to be looking to expand its portfolio of education business and we wonder whether its investment in ITV can be used as a bargaining chip with RTL – owners of C5. By supporting an RTL takeover of ITV, News Corp could end up with C5 – just what Lord Puttnam has worked so hard to prevent.

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