LONDON — The BBC is a bloated, top-heavy, and poorly led corporation staffed by dull executives and backbiting journalists — and that’s just what the company’s leadership says.
In 3,000 pages of e-mails and interviews published Friday, the BBC’s top officials have harsh words for the institutional culture of their respected media group, whose image has been damaged by a scandal over a top entertainer who police say sexually assaulted hundreds of women and children.
“These documents paint a very unhappy picture,” said BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten, and said in a statement that the taxpayer-funded corporation needed “to acknowledge these shortcomings and learn from them.”
The documents, consisting of appendices, interviews, and e-mails, are supporting material for the BBC’s investigation into its handling of the sex crime allegations against the late entertainer Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011 at the age of 84.
Savile was among the BBC’s biggest stars, but he was dogged for years by rumors about relationships with young girls. After he died, BBC reporters dug into his past but the investigation was shelved under disputed circumstances.
When the pedophilia story eventually broke anyway — on a rival television network — the BBC was plunged into a double scandal: One over how the network could have hosted one of the nation’s most prolific sex offenders for so long, the other over why the broadcaster canceled its posthumous expose.
The BBC’s internal report, published in December, said that chaos and confusion, not coverup, was to blame. But the material published Friday fleshes out institutional problems.
The BBC’s director of global news, Peter Horrocks, described executives struggling to get their story straight.
“The organization, even at that last gasp, did not know what was going on,” he said.
Patten said the corporation’s cushy jobs were “one of the reasons why people get into the BBC and then never leave.”
BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman said that the corporation had given too much deference to officialdom over the testimony of abuse victims.
“I thought that we had behaved just like many other authorities,” he said. “And I didn’t like it.”