The crisis at the BBC is a crisis of leadership and management. As chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants in recruiting George Entwistle from under his nose. He has now wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds paying off George Entwistle just 55 days into the job. However it is not just Lord Patten’s judgment that is faulty; he has clearly been asleep at the wheel. He claimed he knew nothing of Newsnight dropping its Jimmy Savile investigation until last September, yet it was widely reported in the media back in January this year. Many feel that his other outside interests mean he can’t give this job the time it deserves. The chairman of the trust is responsible for trust in the BBC – that trust has never been lower. Lord Patten is part of the problem, not the solution, and it is time for him to go with his director general – but not with the same pay-off.
Philip Davies is Conservative MP for Shipley.
Lord Patten should not resign. But he does need to get a grip. He must be seen to be acting decisively, now. He should axe the Newsnight programme –now a damaged brand – to save the global reputation of BBC journalism. He should move as swiftly as possible to appoint a new director general from outside the BBC. He should split the role of the chief executive and editor-in-chief as it is clearly too large a brief for any single executive. He should reform the governance of major journalistic investigations. Crucially, Lord Patten needs to change the perception that the BBC is a rudderless ship out of control. He must call on all his political, diplomatic and leadership skills to rescue the BBC from the worst crisis in its 90 year history. The stakes could not be higher. Audiences at home and abroad need to have their confidence restored in trusted, accurate BBC journalism.
Atholl Duncan is former head of news at the BBC and executive director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.