News / Europe

Crises Overshadow BBC's 90th Anniversary

Selah Hennessy
This week marks 90 years since the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, produced its first radio transmission in 1922.  But the landmark anniversary has been overshadowed by a series of crises that have rocked the broadcaster in recent weeks, toppling the director-general and bringing the publicly-funded body's future into question.  

Stewart Purvis, a former chief executive of ITN, a rival to BBC news, said the BBC is currently facing a challenge unlike any it has dealt with in its 90-year history.
 
"The theme that has run throughout the history of the BBC has been about the relationship between the BBC and the government of the day - there have been a number of points in history when there has been tension," noted Purvis. "This is not about that actually.  It is absolutely about the relationship between the BBC and its listeners and viewers. And that is why some people think it is the biggest crisis there has been, this crisis of trust."

Sex scandal

The late TV entertainer Jimmy Savile is now at the center of a pedophilia investigation in BritainThe late TV entertainer Jimmy Savile is now at the center of a pedophilia investigation in Britain
x
The late TV entertainer Jimmy Savile is now at the center of a pedophilia investigation in Britain
The late TV entertainer Jimmy Savile is now at the center of a pedophilia investigation in Britain
The current crisis began in October when allegations emerged over a longtime BBC presenter, Jimmy Savile.  Police now believe Savile may have abused as many as 300 people over four decades, including underage participants on BBC programs.  The BBC was criticized for failing to make public its own investigations into Savile.

It emerged that in 2011, shortly after Savile's death, the BBC had been due to broadcast a program about sexual abuse allegations against the former presenter.  But the show was shelved and instead tributes to Savile were aired.  It took a British commercial broadcaster, ITV, to air the allegations one year later.

Those events had already raised questions about decisions being made at the BBC.

Then early this month its news program Newsnight aired a show falsely accusing a British politician of child abuse.  It later emerged the politician had been misidentified and Newsnight made an unreserved apology.  

Purvis said the mistakes show that some major changes need to take place at the BBC.

"I think the fact is the current crop of BBC leaders are not up to the job," he said.  "There will have to be a new regime at the BBC and if that regime is any good it will win back the trust."

Firings

Already heads have rolled as a result of the crisis.

BBC Director General George Entwistle, Nov. 10, 2012.BBC Director General George Entwistle, Nov. 10, 2012.
x
BBC Director General George Entwistle, Nov. 10, 2012.
BBC Director General George Entwistle, Nov. 10, 2012.
After just 54 days in the job director-general, George Entwistle resigned his post.  The head of news and her deputy have also stepped aside.

In answer to a question during a BBC broadcast interview, BBC Chairman Chris Patten said his organization has to reform. 

"If you are saying, does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul, then absolutely it does and that is what we will have to do," Patten acknowledged.

On the street, opinion about how this has affected trust in the BBC appears to be mixed.

"I think we should value the BBC.  It is a fantastic institution," one woman said.

"We do not really trust them as much as we used to," admitted another BBC viewer.

Now, the BBC appears to be working hard to win that trust back.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs