BBC director resigns under fire, chairman says overhaul still needed
George Entwistle resigned as director general of the BBC this weekend to take responsibility for a mistaken child sex allegation on the flagship news program Newsnight.
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Patten, who must find a new director general to sort out the mess, agreed that management structures had proved inadequate.Skip to next paragraph
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"Apparently decisions about the program went up through every damned layer of BBC management, bureaucracy, legal checks - and still emerged," he said.
"One of the jokes I made, and actually it wasn't all that funny, when I came to the BBC ... was that there were more senior leaders in the BBC than there were in the Chinese Communist Party."
Patten ruled out resigning himself but other senior jobs are expected to be on the line, while BBC supporters fear investigative journalism will be scaled back. He said he expected to name Entwistle's successor in weeks, not months.
Among the immediate challenges are threats of litigation.
McAlpine, a close ally of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, has indicated he will sue for damages.
Claims for compensation are also likely from victims who say Savile, one of the most recognizable personalities on British television in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, sexually abused them as children, sometimes on BBC premises.
Two inquiries are already under way, looking at failures at Newsnight and allegations relating to Savile, both of which could make uncomfortable reading for senior figures.
Police have also launched a major inquiry into Savile's crimes and victims' allegations of a high-profile pedophile ring. Detectives said they had arrested their third suspect on Sunday, a man in his 70s from Cambridgeshire in central England.
Funded by an annual licence fee levied on all TV viewers, the BBC has long been resented by its commercial rivals, who argue it has an unfair advantage and distorts the market.
Murdoch's Sun tabloid gleefully reported Entwistle's departure with the headline "Bye Bye Chump" and Patten said News Corp and others would put the boot in, happy to deflect attention after a phone-hacking scandal put the newspaper industry under intense and painful scrutiny.
He said that "one or two newspapers, Mr. Murdoch's papers" would love to see the BBC lose its national status, "but I think the great British public doesn't want to see that happen".
Murdoch himself was watching from afar.
"BBC getting into deeper mess. After Savile scandal, now prominent news program falsely names senior pol as paedophile," he wrote on his Twitter website on Saturday.
It is not just the BBC and the likes of Entwistle and Patten who are in the spotlight.
Thompson, whom Entwistle succeeded in mid-September, has also faced questions from staff at the New York Times over whether he is still the right person to take one of the biggest jobs in American newspaper publishing.
Britain's Murdoch-owned Sunday Times queried how Thompson could have been unaware of claims about Savile during his tenure at the BBC as he had told British lawmakers, saying his lawyers had written to the paper addressing the allegations in early September, while he was still director general.