English / Journalism / Media / Uncategorized

The Dark Side of Auntie

The BBC (sometimes informally known as “Auntie” as combining both familiarity  and respect, see The Economist article from earlier this year, “Auntie’s big year” here) has always been one of the jewels in Britain’s Soft Power crown (one of the others being, of course, The Crown itself).  Internationally renowned for the quality, not only of its news reporting but also of its drama and documentary production, the BBC is also one of the most trusted and respected brands back home in the UK.  As a child, your blogger was not even allowed to watch the (sole) commercial channel, at the time ITV, with its corrupting influence of advertising. However, a string of scandals in the last couple of years (for an example see the Jonathan Ross/Russel Brand phone prank scandal here) had already tarnished that image, but even these have been eclipsed by the latest allegations of an institutional cover-up of child-abuse by one of its former (and now, dead) presenters, Jimmy Savile; a cover-up which lasted decades (for background, see The Guardian’s article “Jimmy Savile: the abuse rumours that have persisted for years“) . The Savile row has snowballed, with other high-profile figures in the media and politics also being suspected. Rumours in the media world led to the BBC Newsnight report which made anonymous allegations against a senior figure in the Conservative party. This fuelled rumours on Twitter and Lord McAlpine, former treasurer of the Conservative Party was linked to child-abuse which happened at a children’s home in Wales (see here for the story). Lord McAlpine is reaching a settlement with the BBC — and ITV (his name was leaked on daytime television). You can see Lord McAlpine talking about the experience during an interview here.  Which leads me to the man in our picture (above): the former director general of the BBC, George Entwistle, “resigned after the flagship news programme dropped a correct report exposing child abuse by Jimmy Savile and then broadcast a second incorrect report alleging that former Conservative party treasurer Lord McAlpine was a paedophile” (The Guardian). Having received a £450 000 payoff he is now being questioned by Members of Parliament. This is, afterall, a public broadcaster for which viewers pay an annual licence fee of £145.50 (£49 for a black-and-white television). Read the article “BBC executives face grilling by MPs over £450k George Entwistle payoff” from The Guardian for the story in depth.