The chairman of the BBC’s governing board called yesterday for a radical overhaul of the world’s largest broadcaster after it was plunged into crisis following the resignation of its director-general amid a sex abuse scandal.
Chris Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, said the crisis had revealed a need for a “thorough, structural, radical overhaul” of the organization, although he said he would not be quitting.
He was speaking after the dramatic resignation of director-general George Entwistle on Saturday night after the flagship BBC news program Newsnight admitted it had wrongly implicated a politician in child sex abuse.
Entwistle’s departure leaves the organization in chaos as it struggles to restore trust in its journalism and battles the scandal surrounding Jimmy Savile, the late BBC television star now alleged to have been a prolific child sex offender.
“The wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader,” Entwistle said in a statement outside the broadcaster’s London headquarters on Saturday.
“To have been the director-general of the BBC even for a short period, and in the most challenging of circumstances, has been a great honor,” he said.
The 50-year-old was only appointed to the top job in September, making his leadership the shortest in the BBC’s history.
Entwistle announced his resignation the day after Newsnight was forced to apologize for wrongly implicating a senior Conservative party figure in abuse at a Welsh children’s home in the 1970s.
The director-general condemned the report as “fundamentally wrong,” although he admitted he had no knowledge of the show before it was aired, a revelation that led critics to suggest he was no longer in control.
Entwistle said quitting was “the honorable thing to do” since he was the BBC’s editor-in-chief, and ultimately responsible for all output.
He has been replaced by Tim Davie, a former Pepsi executive who is currently the BBC’s director of audio and music, while the BBC Trust finds a more permanent replacement.