BBC counts cost of suspending Kilroy

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The Independent Online

The BBC is estimated to have lost £625,000 following the decision to suspend Robert Kilroy-Silk's morning talk show after the former presenter made anti-Arab remarks.

The discussion programme was taken off air after Kilroy-Silk, 61, referred to Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb amputators and women repressors" in a newspaper article.

Yesterday, the BBC confirmed that "several episodes" of the daily talk show had been recorded before the decision to postpone its transmission. There would be some financial loss, the corporation added, but refused to confirm a figure.

The unaired episodes were made even during the week that the show was suspended, in an effort not to pre-judge the outcome of the corporation's investigation.

Under the deal with the BBC, the Kilroy Television Company, which Kilroy-Silk owns, will make a similar talk show for the corporation that will be hosted by a series of guest presenters.

Broadcast magazine reported that the production company charged the corporation about £25,000 per show, leaving the BBC with a loss of £625,000 for the 25 shows that will not be screened.

The Kilroy show's head of production, Graham Walters, was quoted as saying that the former presenter would still have an element of editorial control. He said: "Kilroy-Silk will still be involved as he is the chairman of the company. He will be closely involved with the new presenters, helping them to settle in. The BBC is happy with that."

But the BBC denied that claim. "Kilroy-Silk has no editorial input in the programme and he is not choosing any of the presenters," a spokesman said.

Kilroy-Silk, who apologised for his article in the Sunday Express, resigned before the BBC had completed its investigation into the matter. He said that he recognised his comments to have caused "difficulties" for the BBC.