Annual report unveils "failings of BBC"; Embattled BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten will step down in 2015
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
“The unparalleled success and quality of the BBC’s Olympics coverage was rapidly followed by some of the darkest days in our recent history, with the revelations about the appalling crimes of Jimmy Savile and all that came after them,” said Patten in a forward to the report.
Patten, who has been under scrutiny for the broadcaster’s handling of the Savile scandal, also revealed that he would not renew for a second term as chairman, meaning he will stand down in 2015.
The former governor of Hong Kong was appointed in 2011 for a four-year term.
The numbers in the BBC annual report speak for themselves: The Beeb spent a whopping £5 million ($7.5 million) investigating the Jimmy Savile child sex-abuse affair in addition to wasting $150 million of tax payers money on an abortive technology project.
The Savile scandal, which broke in October 2012, and journalistic ineptitude on U.K. current affairs program “Newsnight,” which had alleged incorrectly that a British peer was guilty of sex crimes were, said Patten, just some of the significant “failings of the BBC.”
“The BBC seriously let down both itself and license fee payers,” he said. “Trust in the institution took a hit as a result, although it has begun to recover.”
High points of the year included the Beeb’s Olympic coverage – the corporation spent $1.66 billion on its flagship channel BBC 1, up $132.9 million thanks to London 2012.
BBC 4 had “a very successful year” thanks to Shakespeare and London seasons linked to the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. This bucked the trend of digital channels losing viewers.
Elsewhere in the report, the Beeb spent $739 million on indies in the 2012/13 year while $425 was spent on contracts with artists and contributors and an additional $350 million was spent on facilities and resources.
Incredibly, the Beeb’s payments to senior managers went up 62% to $6.2 million, mostly due to payoffs of nearly $2.3 million to executives: former COO Caroline Thompson was given a $377,490 tax-free lump sum in addition to her redundancy payment of $1 million.
Former director-general Mark Thompson left the BBC with a $564,955 pot while his successor George Entwistle, who stepped down in disgrace after less than two months in the role, left with $1.5 million in his pocket.
The Beeb did, however, save $875 million in the final year of its old efficiency program. Its new target will look to see it save more than $1 million annually over the next five years.