BBC Under Fire As Sex Abuse Claims Mount Against Former Host

Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage:

Only one month into his tenure, new BBC director general George Entwistle is being tested with a scandal that could have far-reaching implications. The brouhaha involves sexual abuse allegations against a deceased former star host and the corporation’s handling of the situation as far back as the 1970s. Claims against the late Jimmy Savile, one of the BBC’s most beloved presenters for more than three decades on such programs as wish-granting show Jim’ll Fix It and music chart staple Top Of The Pops, include at least 40 potential victims who have come forward. The Metropolitan Police now says its investigations involve 340 lines of inquiry. Entwistle has been criticized for his slow response to the scandal, whose recent revelations indicate the BBC may have turned a blind eye to Savile’s alleged behavior. If the public’s trust in the BBC is breached, the Financial Times points out, “This could impact the scope and financing of the broadcaster over the next decade” while it negotiates a new charter ahead of 2016.

On Friday, Entwistle expressed “a profound and heartfelt apology – on behalf of the BBC – to every victim.” He also said the corporation will hold two independent inquiries into the affair. On the one hand, Entwistle said there will be a review of the “culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Jimmy Savile worked here, and afterwards.” The same inquiry will examine the BBC’s current child protection, whistleblowing, bullying and harassment policies. (more…)

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