BBC faces major re-structuring amid child abuse scandal
Published Monday, November 12, 2012 6:36AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 12, 2012 9:26PM EST
Rocked by scandal, the British Broadcasting Corporation is facing a major overhaul as public esteem for Britain’s news industry hits an all-time low.
The director of BBC News Helen Boaden and her deputy Stephen Mitchell stepped aside Monday as the BBC struggles to cope with two separate sex abuse scandals – one that proved to be libellous and another of alleged sex abuse by a former BBC star, which never made it to air.
The media organization’s flagship program Newsnight was forced to retract mistaken allegations that a Conservative politician sexually abused children.
That mistake followed the revelation that the broadcaster failed to air a report on widespread child sex abuse allegations against one of its biggest stars, the late Jimmy Savile.
This past weekend BBC chief George Entwistle resigned over the scandal. The broadcaster came under fire yet again after it was revealed that Entwistle, who held the position for 54 days, would receive a severance pay of US$715,000.
"Clearly, it is hard to justify a sizeable payoff of that sort," Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman Steve Field told reporters Monday.
Meanwhile, the public and politicians are anxiously awaiting the Lord Justice Brian Leveson report into media ethics, which stemmed from Britain’s phone hacking scandal.
The scandal exploded after it was discovered that employees of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid hacked into a kidnapped girl’s cell phone.
Following the shocking revelation, scores of celebrities and politicians claimed that they, too, had been hacked.
The phone-hacking scandal led to millions being paid out in compensation, the arrest of several news executives and the shutdown of the tabloid.
Monday, Murdoch tweeted that it was time to reorganize the BBC.
“BBC mess gives Cameron golden opportunity (to) properly reorganize great public broadcaster," he wrote.
Between the BBC scandal and the Leveson report, which is expected to be released at the end of the month, many say public regard for the British media is at an all-time low.
"The issues the BBC is dealing with at the moment ... are very different from the phone hacking and illegal intercept of communications which led to the Leveson inquiry," Bob Calver, a journalism professor at Birmingham City University, told The Associated Press. "(But) clearly in the public mind there won't be that distinction, the public will see it as poor standards across the board."
Phil Harding, the former controller of editorial policy for the BBC, warned U.K. media about the damaging long-term effects the scandal may have on Britons.
"If you really tear into another journalistic organizations, what you are going to do is ... undermine public confidence in journalism," he said Monday at a Society of Editors conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
With a report from The Associated Press