BBC launches disciplinary action over abuse scandal
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
People arrive at and leave the BBC headquarters in London. A recent investigation has criticized the BBC for accusing a senior politician of child abuse. REUTERS photo
The BBC began disciplinary proceedings yesterday over a news report that wrongly accused a British politician of child sex abuse as it widened the hunt for a new leader to tackle one of the worst crises in its history.
The world’s largest broadcasting organization, which marks its 90th birthday yesterday, reportedly wants an outsider for its new director-general who could overhaul an unwieldy management culture.
The channel is under a pall caused by two programs, one smearing Conservative politician Alistair McAlpine, which was broadcast, and another which was shelved but accused late star Jimmy Savile of being a pedophile.
Basic journalistic failures
An internal investigation found “basic” journalistic failures led the flagship show Newsnight to run the story falsely saying that former Conservative treasurer McAlpine abused children at a care home in Wales in the 1970s.
The probe into the program, carried out by the BBC’s Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie, “will be used to inform disciplinary proceedings, which will begin immediately,” the BBC said in a statement.
The BBC has not yet said who will be punished but it took the unusual step of saying that Peter Johnston, Director of BBC Northern Ireland, had been involved in the decision to run the program.
The botched Newsnight report and the BBC’s response to the Savile scandal has led to calls for a changes to the annual “license fee” that all Britons with a television must pay, and even a possible break-up of the organization. Publicly funded under a Royal Charter, the British Broadcasting Corporation has nearly 23,000 employees and a global audience of around 239 million people, according to the BBC’s own figures.
The furor has already claimed the top job at the organization after director-general George Entwistle resigned last weekend after just 54 days in the position while his temporary replacement, Tim Davie, has pledged to “get a grip” of the crisis.