Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First woman to head the BBC

India-born Dr. Chitra Bharucha is set to become the first woman to head the BBC, albeit in an acting capacity, following the resignation of BBC chairperson Michael Grade.

Bharucha, vice-chairperson of the recently formed BBC Trust - which will take on the responsibility of running BBC come January - has been named acting chair of the Trust.

As of now, Anthony Salz, who is deputy chairperson of the BBC's board of governors, has taken over from Grade, who is joining the BBC's main terrestrial rival in Britain, ITV.

The BBC Trust is a new body that has been created to oversee the regulation and governance of BBC from January, when the board of governors, which currently oversees the autonomous broadcaster, is disbanded.

Along with an executive board, the Trust will take over the role of the current board of governors and will be independent of the BBC management.

When it assumes its responsibilities in January, Bharucha will become the acting chairperson of the BBC Corporation - till a full-time chairperson is appointed.

According to reports, current acting chairperson Salz is not joining the Trust, which will replace the board in January, and will be leaving his role in the BBC at the end of the year.

Though Britain's Department for Culture, Media and Sport will advertise the BBC Trust chairmanship as soon as possible, it is unlikely the process will be completed until well into the new year, according to a report in the Digital Spy website.

Applications for the post must be scrutinised by a government panel, which can take time.

Born in Madurai, India, Bharucha has lived in Britain since 1972.

A haematologist by profession, Bharucha has served as deputy director, Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service, and consultant clinical haematologist, Belfast City Hospital.

She currently also chairs the Fitness to Practise Adjudication Panels of Britain's General Medical Council, having served as a council member from 1999 to 2003.

Bharucha shifted from a career in medicine to media in 1996 when she joined the BBC Broadcasting Council for Northern Ireland, a position she stayed in till 2003.

She had also served as the Northern Ireland member of the Independent Television Commission from 2001 to 2003.

In 2004, Bharucha was appointed to the Advertising Standards Authority - Council, where she currently chairs the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs for the Food Standards Agency.

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