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Puttnam out of running for BBC chairman as search intensifies

LONDON - Lord Puttnam has ruled himself out of the running to become BBC chairman after the deadline closed yesterday for applicants wishing to succeed Michael Grade, ending hopes for one of the perceived frontrunners and favoured candidates.

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In an article in this week's Spectator, Lord Puttnam, who is a Labour peer and the current deputy chairman of Channel 4, said he had not applied to be BBC chairman, despite confirming he had been approached by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the body overseeing the recruitment process.

"It's the right decision for me", he said, explaining his reluctance to leave his home in Ireland, where he has "never been happier".

In a further blow, Richard Lambert, the former Financial Times editor, has reportedly said he had not considered applying to be chairman, despite early suggestions of his interest.

With the deadline for applications now closed, Lord Puttnam's absence is likely to be viewed as a missed opportunity for the corporation's senior management.

In the Spectator article, Lord Puttnam said he would continue to be a "vocal supporter of the BBC" and the values it represents.

He also defended the corporation's editorial independence and warned it must avoid paying key talent "offensive" amounts of money.

He said: "As an institution [the BBC] is far from perfect, but it does continue to offer the possibility of an eventual victory for sanity over nihilism in the evolution of the nation's media output."

In a criticism of current BBC working practice, he described the relationship between licensed broadcasters and the government as one of "suspicion", warning that senior management needs to "establish an effective and robust form of governance" between itself and staff.

The BBC is not expected to confirm Grade's successor until April, with unconfirmed reports suggesting Paul Myners, chairman of Guardian Media Group, Sir Howard Davies, principal of the London School of Economics, and BBC current affairs presenter David Dimbleby are in the running.

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