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BBC news chiefs step aside as abuse coverage scandal expands

By Bloomberg News

This article was published November 12, 2012 at 7:17 a.m.

a-general-view-of-the-bbc-headquarters-in-london-sunday-nov-11-2012

A general view of the BBC headquarters in London, Sunday, Nov, 11, 2012.

— British Broadcasting Corp.’s two most senior news executives stepped aside, expanding the fallout from errors in child sex-abuse investigations that forced Director General George Entwistle to quit over the weekend.

News director Helen Boaden and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, have given up their responsibilities during a probe into why a BBC Newsnight program investigating sex-abuse claims against former entertainer Jimmy Savile was canceled last year.

Entwistle quit this weekend after a separate Newsnight investigation erroneously implied that a senior politician had molested a young boy.

The scandal has thrown the license-fee-funded broadcaster into disarray and intensified criticism against the 90-year-old institution that runs the U.K.’s most-watched TV channels. The head of the BBC’s supervisory body called for a “radical overhaul” of the corporation as it seeks to justify the annual $5.7 billion it receives from U.K. households.

“Entwistle is right to step down, and I’m not surprised Helen Boaden has stepped aside, but it’s premature to conclude the BBC is a broken and valueless institution and that the management structure is at fault,” said Claire Enders, a media analyst at Enders Analysis in London.

Boaden and Mitchell are being temporarily replaced by Fran Unsworth, head of BBC news gathering, and Ceri Thomas, editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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