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Ex-BBC boss apologises for £100m digital project waste

Former BBC boss Mark Thompson has apologised for the corporation's failed Digital Media Initiative (DMI) which was scrapped at the cost of nearly £100m of licence fee-payers' money.

The project, to create an integrated digital production and archiving system, was abandoned in May 2013.

Mark Thompson giving evidence to MPs about the failed £98.4m scheme.

Asked about previous evidence, where he said DMI was working well, Mr Thompson told the Public Affairs Committee: "I don't believe I have misled you on any other matter and I don't believe I misled you knowingly on this one."

He said it "failed as a project" and added that he "wanted to say sorry" for the waste of public money.

But he told MPs his previous evidence was "a faithful and accurate account of my understanding of the project at that point".

A report by the National Audit Office said the BBC Executive "did not have sufficient grip" on the IT project and did not properly assess the system to see whether it was "technically sound".

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Top Gear test track added to Google Street View

Top Gear fans can now follow in the tyre tracks of The Stig after the BBC show's test track was added to Google Street View.

The track at Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey, has regularly been used by star guests including Damian Lewis, Jamie Oliver and Simon Cowell.

Top Gear fans can follow in the tyre tracks of The Stig after the BBC show's test track was added to Google Street View. Credit: Google Street View

The Stig, driving a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black, accompanied the Google car as it did a circuit of the 2.82km track.

Fans of the show, which returns for a new series on February 2, can find the track by typing Top Gear Test Track into Google Maps and drag the orange figure to the track.

The commercial director for Top Gear at BBC Worldwide, Duncan Gray, said the show's followers could now explore the track and quipped that bosses had to tell The Stig to "slow down" when the shots were captured.

BBC's report into Jimmy Savile is delayed

The report into Jimmy Savile was due out this month Credit: PA

The independent report commissioned by the BBC into what the corporation knew about Jimmy Savile's abuse has been delayed until the middle of the year, at the request of Lancashire Police and the BBC.

The inquiry, led by Dame Janet Smith, had been intending to publish its findings this month.

The Observer reported that the "damning review" will reveal that BBC staff turned a blind eye to Jimmy Savile's abuse of children on the corporation's premises.

BBC Trust 'regrets licence fee payers were let down'

A BBC Trust spokesman said the PAC's work had "helped inform" the corporation's plan to simplify the way it was run which were announced last week.

We greatly regret that licence fee payers were let down by this episode. They are entitled to expect that their money is spent wisely. Since 2009, the trust has worked successfully with the executive to drive down senior manager pay; and we support Tony Hall's speedy action to impose a cap on severance payments in the future.

We have already announced measures that address the committee's call for more rigorous scrutiny of the BBC's performance and clarify the Charter's requirement that the BBC Executive manages the BBC while the trust represents the licence fee payer.

As part of implementing these measures, we will pursue the committee's recommendation that the trust and executive record and communicate decisions properly so that audit concerns raised in the PAC report are addressed.

In addition, the trust's scrutiny role will, in future, be much more transparent, so that licence fee payers themselves can judge how well the BBC is run.

BBC payoffs 'total £25 million'

The Public Accounts Committee has said that 150 senior managers of the BBC have between them received payoffs totalling £25 million.

George Entwistle
Former Director-General George Entwistle was given a £470,000 payoff after 54 days in the job. Credit: PA

Chairperson Margaret Hodge said they were "dismayed to find that many of these individuals received 'sweeteners' in their severance packages that were far larger than the sums to which they were contractually entitled."

The MP also accused the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, of "sitting on its hands" while the pay-offs were being made.

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MPs: BBC payoffs down to 'culture of cronyism'

A committee of senior MPs has accused the BBC of putting "its reputation at risk" in handing over excessive payoffs to senior staff.

Margaret Hodge
Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge cited "a failure at the highest levels" of the BBC. Credit: PA

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said some of the justifications for the pay-offs had been "extraordinary".

She said there was "a failure at the highest levels of the BBC to challenge payments to senior managers and what appears to have been a culture of cronyism that allowed for the liberal use of licence fee payers' money".

BBC Trust stands by 'robust' Pollard report into Savile

The BBC Trust has said it stands by the "robust" conclusions of Nick Pollard's report into the dropped Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile after questions were raised about its validity.

But the BBC's governing body said it was a "mistake" for Mr Pollard not to include the claims of a letter, written by former BBC director of news Helen Boaden, which said she had informed then-director-general Mark Thompson the Newsnight report was looking into sex abuse allegations against Savile.

File picture of the Pollard Review.
The Pollard Review said the decision to drop the Newsnight report into the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse allegations was flawed. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/

Earlier today, a phone recording was published in which Mr Pollard talks about why he did not include the claim in his report.

Mr Thompson, who is now chief executive of the New York Times, has always said he "took no part" in the decision to halt the Newsnight investigation.

Read: BBC Trust requests explanation over Savile recording

BBC Trust requests explanation over Savile recording

Nick Pollard led a review into the sequence of events surrounding Newsnight's shelved report into Jimmy Savile's activities.
Nick Pollard led a review into the sequence of events surrounding Newsnight's shelved report into Jimmy Savile's activities. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The BBC's governing body has asked former news executive Nick Pollard for an explanation about a recording which has been published online in which he discusses his failure to include some evidence in his report into the Savile scandal.

In the phone recording he talks about why he did not include a claim by the BBC's former director of news Helen Boaden that she had informed then-director-general Mark Thompson that a proposed Newsnight report was looking into sex abuse allegations against late DJ Jimmy Savile.

Mr Pollard led a review into the sequence of events surrounding Newsnight's shelved report into Savile's activities which eventually led to a huge crisis at the corporation and the departure of a later director-general, George Entwistle, after only 54 days in the post.

The edited recording, which lasts more than five minutes, was posted on the Guido Fawkes political blog, includes former Sky News chief Mr Pollard explaining that he did not include Ms Boaden's claim in the report because he did not recognise its significance at the time.

White Paper: Scottish broadcaster would replace BBC

An independent Scotland will create a new public service broadcaster, founded on the staff and assets of BBC Scotland, and funded by the current licence fee, the Scottish Government has said.

A new national broadcaster would be founded using resources from the current BBC Scotland, the White Paper says
A new national broadcaster would be founded using resources from the current BBC Scotland, the White Paper says Credit: Julia Hoyle/PA Wire

Its White Paper sets out plans to set up the Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS), offering content for television, radio and online.

The new SBS will inherit a proportionate share of the BBC's commercial ventures totalling around £13 million as well as receiving licence fee revenue from Scotland to the tune of £320 million.

A formal relationship between the SBS and the BBC is proposed where SBS will continue to supply the BBC with programming in return for access to BBC services across Scotland.

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