Kelvin MacKenzie enters BBC chairman job race with plans to axe Radio 1 and 2

The former editor of The Sun, who oversaw the paper's Hillsborough coverage, has been repeatedly accused of racism and Islamophobia

07.10.20

Words by: Felicity Martin

Former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie has entered the race to become chairman of the BBC, saying he would shut all national radio stations except BBC Radio 4 if he gets the job.

MacKenzie said he was “very confident” that Downing Street would be favourable to his application, being a vocal critic of the BBC as well as a close ally of Rupert Murdoch.

The ex-journalist announced his plan to run for the job, which currently carries a £100,000 salary for a three day-a-week role, with the hashtag #DefundTheBBC.

As BBC Chairman, MacKenzie said he would sell off Radio 1 and Radio 2 as well as BBC One and BBC Two. He would also halve the £157.50-per-year licence to make the BBC more competitive with the monthly subscriptions charged by Netflix and Disney+, and scrap jail terms for those who refuse to pay.

“I don’t want to be charged a fee by the state,” he said.

He also targeted Gary Lineker and his new £1.35m-a-year BBC contract: “He can go and eat crisps for a living or work for BT Sport,” he said.

MacKenzie was repeatedly accused of Islamophobia and racism during his position at The Sun, and his column in the national paper was terminated after he compared mixed-race footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla.

He was also editor at the paper during the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, printing damning front-page headline “The Truth”, which was later found out to be pure fabrication.

Former BBC executive Sir Robbie Gibb, a pro-Brexiter who ran Theresa May’s Downing Street press operation, was tipped as the current front-runner after previous favourite Charles Moore, the former Telegraph editor, withdrew his interest.