London Olympics Organizer Sebastian Coe Seen as Favorite for BBC Trust Chair Post
Former Olympic runner Sebastian Coe is the leading contender to become chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the U.K. public broadcaster, ahead of interviews with five shortlisted candidates, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
It said that the leading internal candidate to replace Chris Patten, who stepped down from the role earlier this year citing health reasons, has not made the shortlist. Diane Coyle, acting chair of the BBC Trust, doesn't feature on the British government's list of people who will interview for the post, the paper said.
The news comes during a week that has seen the BBC Trust tell the BBC executive to address a gender imbalance on-air and in the executive ranks of the broadcaster.
Coe is prime minister David Cameron's favorite for the BBC Trust chair role, which comes with an annual salary of £110,000 ($188,000).
He won four Olympic medals, including in the 1,500-meter race at the Summer Olympics in 1980 and 1984. Coe headed the successful London bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and became chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the Summer Games, earning much praise for making them a success.
Coyle is an economist and former journalist. The Guardian cited colleagues of hers who were told that she has not made the cut.
It wasn't immediately known who the other names on the shortlist were. But the paper mentioned entrepreneur Martyn Rose, chairman of the English National Opera; Marjorie Scardino, the former CEO of Financial Times owner Pearson; Patience Wheatcroft, a former editor of the European edition of The Wall Street Journal: and Sarah Hogg, a former BBC governor, as people who have been tipped as possible contenders.
The interviews with the five candidates be conducted next week by a panel, followed by a second round of interviews by U.K. culture secretary Sajid Javid, who will then choose a preferred candidate. That person will be questioned by the British parliament's House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee before the government comes to a final decision.
The BBC Trust is expected to face changes or possibly even be axed following criticism for high severance payments to former BBC executives, a costly failed digital initiative and the Jimmy Savile scandal.
The trust has outlined the process for picking a new chair, but hasn't commented on candidates.