BBC chiefs debate Newsnight future

 

BBC bosses will today discuss the future of Newsnight, the chairman of the Corporation's Trust said.

Lord Patten said he would be meeting with Tim Davie, the acting director-general of the BBC, today to discuss the future of the flagship programme.

The future of Newsnight is in doubt following former director-general George Entwistle's resignation.

The announcement came after he admitted he did not know beforehand that Newsnight planned to broadcast allegations linking a senior Tory to the abuse scandal at a North Wales children's home.

The allegations have since been exposed as defamatory and false.

Asked whether Newsnight could now survive, Lord Patten told Sky's Murnaghan programme: "That's one of the things we will be discussing with the acting director-general today.

"I think one of the things that should survive is the investigative journalism which it has represented along with Panorama.

"At the heart of our news offering has to be uncompromising investigative journalism but you have to get it right."

Lord Patten said his own position would be under scrutiny if he failed to restore public trust in the BBC.

But he said he would not be bullied into resigning by newspapers owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Lord Patten said: "I think my job now is to make sure that we learn the lessons from this crisis... that we get to grips with the issues raised in the investigation of Newsnight and we put those things right.

"If we don't do that and we don't restore the huge confidence and trust that people have in the BBC, then I'm sure people will tell me to take my cards and clear off.

"But I am not going to this morning take my marching orders from Mr Murdoch's newspapers. I think there are big issues that need to be tackled involving the BBC and in so far as they are the responsibility of the Trust... that's what I want to give my attention to.

"I don't think it is shot to pieces but it has taken a very, very big hit."

Lord Patten said it was a tragedy that Mr Entwistle's tenure had been so short because he had been "implicitly" involved in Newsnight's decision to scrap the original investigation into Jimmy Savile as he was head of vision at the Corporation at the time.

He said he did not try and talk the director-general out of resigning because he thought it was the right decision.

Mr Entwistle had done the "honourable and decent thing", he said.

But he warned the BBC would need to change the way it worked, saying it could no longer operate in silos under the burden of a large bureaucracy.

And he said head of news Helen Boaden had been "recused" of any dealings in the investigation into Newsnight because of her earlier involvement.

PA

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