Entwistle's pay-off is a boiling point for the BBC

But there are bigger things at stake than the £450,000 he took home

Share
Related Topics

The BBC likes nothing more, it seems, than a story about the BBC. I am sure that somewhere in the Sumatran jungle there is a creature that stays alive by feeding on itself, and someone listening to any of the Beeb's news outlets yesterday might be forgiven that a peculiar form of auto-parasticism had overtaken the corporation.

Everywhere you turned, the same questions were being asked. Is this the biggest crisis in the BBC's history? How many more heads will roll, or, in the bulls**t bingo phrase, how many more executives will be "stepping aside"? Will Newsnight be canned? And will Eddie Mair emerge as the man to restore faith in the BBC's journalism? (Actually, that last question was one going around in my own head, but if calmness, thoroughness and independence of outlook is needed, he should be the new face of BBC news.)

There are, of course, huge issues for the corporation to resolve, and the acting Director-General, Tim Davie, made a good start by refusing to be bounced into quick decisions. But if I take the temperature of the Radio 5 phone-ins accurately, the matter that exercises the British public more than any other is the size of George Entwistle's pay-off. The sum of £450,000 is a decent wedge in anyone's book, but you can understand the angry reaction of Fulminating of Falmouth and Incadescent of Ipswich yesterday. "It would take me 20 years to earn that amount of money," said one listener, making the point that Mr Entwistle's settlement was payment for 54 days of pretty catastrophic leadership. On and on the callers went, some saying they were going to refuse to pay their licence fee, others doubting they would ever trust the BBC again.

Both David Cameron and Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, surfed this wave of general indignation by saying that the pay-off was difficult to justify, and a complicated, nuanced story became one we could all understand: it was about fat cats, noses in the trough, and our old friend, "the reward for failure". So it has come down, as most things do, to money.

I obviously don't know the precise details of Mr Entwistle's contract, but it is not unexpected that someone in a high-profile, demanding and vulnerable post would have a degree of financial comfort in the event of a forced resignation. Whether that should equate to a year's salary for Mr Entwistle is moot, but it's hardly the most important discussion point around this whole sorry saga.

The failures of journalism are breathtaking, and what it exposes is a schizophrenic news organisation in which some figures take themselves so seriously as inheritors of the Reithian philosophy – witness the statement released through his agents by Jeremy Paxman, which had all the portent of a papal edict – while others at a middle-management level are making decisions that would fail any simple test of journalistic practice.

One further question I'd like to pose is this: why does the best-resourced editorial operation in Britain have to outsource its investigative journalism, as Newsnight did with the fateful child abuse report? One thing is clear: as the BBC belongs to us, we have the right to demand answers.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dom Joly owns a pig. That thinks it's a dog.  

I'll bow out. Let Wilbur, the pig that thinks it's a dog, bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
 

Forget charging by the page - with books, heart matters more than heft

Katy Guest
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'