The BBC’s director of news and her deputy stepped aside Monday over the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal that has rocked the British state broadcaster.
Helen Boaden and Steve Mitchell were part of the chain of command that halted broadcasting a program about allegations against Savile, a longtime presenter with the BBC. Some estimates say that Savile, who died last year, sexually abused as many as 300 children over a several-decade span before it came to light over the past few weeks.
Ken MacQuarrie, who heads BBC Scotland, said that Boaden “has decided that she is not in a position to undertake this responsibility until the Pollard review has concluded,” referring to an investigation into the matter by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard, according to the broadcaster.
“Consideration is now being given to the extent to which individuals should be asked to account further for their actions and if appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken,” MacQuarrie continued.
Boaden and Mitchell are expected to retain their positions after the Pollard inquiry, MacQuarrie said.
Another news program recently aired by the BBC falsely accused a former senior Tory politician of child abuse, prompting newly minted Director General George Entwistle to step down over the weekend.
A source close to BBC’s management, who was not named, told Reuters that the world’s biggest broadcaster is “fast running out of options; they’re half way down the management list already.”
“Everything is in play and I think this is becoming an existential threat to the BBC,” the source said.
It was also reported by Reuters that former BBC Director-General Mark Thompson started his new job Monday as CEO of The New York Times after the paper hired him in August. Entwistle was named as his successor.
“We welcome him at a time of tremendous change and challenge, which must be met with equal focus and innovation,” New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger said in a memo that was circulated to employees and obtained by the news agency.
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