Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
As the BBC scrambles to right the ship in the wake of another disaster at its Newsnight program – and last night’s resignation of director general George Entwistle – BBC Trust chairman Lord Chris Patten made the rounds of the British media on Sunday. Defending the man he appointed, Patten told Sky News that Entwistle left “because there was a bad piece of journalism for which he took responsibility. It was an honorable and decent thing to do. What we need to do now is get a grip of what is happening at the BBC.” Patten told the BBC’s Andrew Marr this morning that the BBC itself was in need of a “thorough, radical, structural overhaul.” But, he also noted, “You’ve only got to watch television in America or France or Italy to know how good the BBC is… The basis for the BBC’s position in this country, is the trust that people have in it.” He added, “If the BBC loses that, it’s over. There are one or two newspapers, Mr. [Rupert] Murdoch’s papers, who would love that, but I think the great British public doesn’t want to see that happen.” The BBC is funded by the British people who pay a fixed license fee for owning a television set, and it has been an enormously trusted and integral part of British life for some 85 years.
Recent failings by the venerable organization are being investigated by two separate inquiries into the Jimmy Savile sex abuse affair. Patten said his focus would be on implementing the changes demanded by those inquiries. “If I don’t do that, and if we don’t restore the huge confidence and trust that people have in the BBC, then I’m sure people will tell me to take my cards and clear off.” But he insisted he would not take his “marching orders” from Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, referring to an editorial in The Sunday Times. He pledged a new permanent director general would be appointed within weeks to take over from acting head Tim Davie.