Crisis at BBC: Media reaction
- 12 November 2012
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
The media is awash with commentary on the crisis at the BBC that has led to the departure of director general George Entwistle and two more executives stepping aside.
Mr Entwistle resigned on Saturday in the wake of a Newsnight investigation that led to a leading Conservative politician being wrongly accused of child abuse.
The BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, have since "stepped aside" pending the outcome of an internal review.
Some commentators are suggesting that Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, should also relinquish his post and that Mr Entwistle should not be receiving a payout equivalent to one year's salary after just eight weeks in the post.
"The resignation of the head of the BBC is a story of institutional failure at the world's most famous broadcasting organisation as much as it is a personal tragedy for the director general. The BBC now finds itself leaderless and adrift in a crisis that is threatening to become more damaging even than the fallout from the Hutton Inquiry in 2004.
"The 54-day tenure of George Entwistle should have been characterised by gripping news stories such as the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and the re-election triumph of Barack Obama. Instead, the BBC itself became the news story, for all the wrong reasons."
"The BBC crisis is terrible, and the management is in meltdown. Newsnight's journalism would have disgraced a student newspaper. Good people are sitting at home, their heads in their hands, waiting to be sacked. Second-raters are struggling to cope at work. Yet out of this, if it learns the right lessons, the corporation can emerge stronger and more sensible.
"There is absolutely no reason why both Newsnight and the BBC as a whole can't thrive and rebuild. The Beeb is much more than just its management - there are vast numbers of talented journalists, entertainers and producers. The corporation just needed a bit of slap. They don't come more stinging than this."
"Recent events have shown that the appointment of Entwistle as director general was a massive error of judgment - and the man who appointed him is Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust. He should also be shown the door.
"Chris Patten's job as chairman of the BBC Trust is to safeguard the interests of the licence fee payers, to set the BBC's editorial guidelines and to protect the independence of the BBC. On each of these counts, it's arguable that he has failed."
Leo McKinstry in The Daily Express
"The chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, who yesterday called for a 'radical overhaul' of the Corporation, looks doomed, not least because he was the one who appointed Entwistle in the first place. Just as endangered is Newsnight itself, for so long the BBC's flagship current affairs programme but now holed below the waterline.
"The Newsnight fiasco has had a lethal impact because it has exposed the rot at the heart of the BBC. The Corporation once prided itself on its commitment to public service, a central reason why it has been so admired in Britain and across the world. But those values have been badly undermined in recent decades. In place of integrity, too much of the corporation has been gripped by partisanship, complacency, arrogance and mis-management."
"I see no reason why Chris Patten should resign: that would just be another decorative head-on-a-spike to satisfy the corporation's bloodthirsty foes in rival media and politics. But we need some pretty senior firings in the executive and legal layers.
"In both recent scandals, the evidence of sly, uncommunicative, nervously arrogant incompetence is simply too strong to ignore."
"The mounting criticism levelled against the BBC comes at a time of deep uncertainty for the British press as it nervously awaits a report by Brian Leveson, a judge who led an inquiry into press standards following the phone hacking scandal last year that rocked the British establishment. His report, expected later this month, could have a profound impact on how the print press is regulated."
"What next for the great British Broadcasting Corporation? I predict that this car crash will play out, more heads will roll and the internal and external torrent of frenzied accusations will inevitably dry to a trickle.
"But I think it's important to remember that the BBC has produced excellent journalism, and in the scheme of things, a couple of (albeit very) bad decisions on Newsnight don't constitute the abolishment of the programme or of the BBC's entire ninety-year-old reputation."
"More immediately, the BBC has to deal with a rebellious mood in its own ranks. Over the past couple of days, many of the BBC's top journalists and presenters have unleashed angry outbursts against the broadcaster's management, mainly directed at Mr Entwistle and Mr Thompson for what the employees have called a pattern of failed leadership.
"A persistent complaint has been that reforms initiated in the 1990s have created a vast hierarchy of overpaid managers who were insulated from programming decisions."
"If George Entwistle thought his resignation would stem the flow of criticism of the BBC, there's been no sign of that yet. Instead there have been calls for others to follow his lead.
"For now the BBC continues to analyse its own crisis - a sign, say its supporters, that the fundamentals are healthy."
"The resignation will not bring about the end of the acute crisis around the BBC which not only erred at least twice in ill judgment in reporting the paedophilia cases, but seemingly defended 'the good name' of one of its veteran stars now accused of sexually attacking hundreds of young girls.
"How is that an organisation with strict journalistic standards like the BBC failed so colossally in making grave accusations in one of its flag[ship] programmes?"
Caitlin Moran, journalist and author: "If they want to make me DG of the BBC, they can get me any time before 3.15pm (I'm on the school run after that)."
Graeme Garden, comedian and former Goodie: "Very proud to hear that 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' is to be adopted as the BBC's new motto."
Richard Osman, Pointless co-host: "I'd just like to announce that I am leaving the BBC. Though I will be back straight after lunch."
Danny Baker, former DJ at BBC London 94.9: "Enthwistle [sic] pay-off an absolute scandal. It should be shared among all those who have departed BBC in controversy. *coughs, points at chest*."
Emma Kennedy, actress and writer: "The BBC are having a bloodbath. Can't see point in it. The bad guys are the ones who abused children. Not execs who made one bad decision."