BBC Trust Poised to Get First Female Chair

Chris Patten - H 2012

Rona Fairhead is understood to be the preferred candidate to head the U.K. public broadcaster's governing body

Rona Fairhead is believed to be in line to become the new chairwoman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the U.K. public broadcaster, according to a report on its own news website.

The former head of the Financial Times Group, Fairhead is understood to be the U.K. government’s preferred replacement for Chris Patten, who resigned in May citing ill health, and will become the Trust’s first female chair should she get final approval by Queen Elizabeth II.

The BBC Trust, which operates independently of BBC management and external bodies, was set up in 2007 with the stated intention of working for the benefit of U.K. television license fee payers. In July, the Trust published a report that claimed the BBC needed to boost its appeal to minority audiences. In April, a BBC Trust review found that the BBC's news output, while "trusted and highly regarded by audiences," was sometimes found to be "distant."?

Speaking to the BBC, the broadcaster’s media and arts correspondent David Sillito described the chair’s position as a "big job."

Sillito added: "You are overseeing the BBC, but you are also in many ways responsible for being the cheerleader, defending it when politicians have got something to say about the BBC."

Former British athlete Sebastian Coe, who played a sizable role in bringing the Olympic Games to London, was initially believed to have been among the favorites for the job but pulled out of the race in July.