Lyons named BBC chairman

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LONDON -- Michael Lyons, a knight of the realm and former market trader, has been named BBC chairman, the government said Thursday.

Lyons takes up the helm of the BBC Trust in place of previous incumbent Michael Grade, who exited the broadcasting giant for commercial pubweb ITV in November.

Lyons told the media it was "a great privilege to be appointed chairman" of the corporation.

The BBC Trust is set up to establish BBC strategy and to ensure that the broadcaster delivers on its commitment to license fee payers to ensure quality and value.

Lyons has held big city council posts and was a professor of public policy at Birmingham University until last year.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell welcomed Lyons' appointment in a statement issued by the department of culture, media and sport.

"He (Lyons) has a distinguished track record in local government and a wide range of other sectors," Jowell said. "He will be an excellent chair of the new BBC Trust. Along with the 11 trust members, he will represent the interests of the license fee payers, ensuring they receive quality programming and value for money."

Lyons' elevation to the post was made by the queen and announced by Prime Minister Tony Blair's Downing Street office and also was welcomed by BBC director general Mark Thompson.

The BBC Trust was created by the government to be "the license fee payer's voice" and ensure "unprecedented obligation to openness and transparency."

It was set up after the publication of the Hutton Report in 2004 which focused the spotlight on the previous setup, which saw BBC governors hold dual duties as the corporation's spokespeople while also being its regulators.
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