The BBC said today that it is “appalled” that some of Stuart Hall’s crimes took place in connection with his work at the broadcaster. Hall was charged late last year with indecent assault and last month admitted 14 offenses against 13 girls from 1967-1985, the youngest aged 9. Today, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison. The 83-year-old former TV and radio host read regional news for the BBC in the 1960s and 70s and also hosted BBC One game show It’s A Knockout from 1972–1988. He reported on soccer for BBC Radio 5 Live until his arrest in December. The criminal investigation into Hall was separate from the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal that has plagued the BBC since last fall. (Hall’s lawyer reportedly told the court he had “all of 13″ victims compared to Jimmy Savile’s 1,300.) After the Savile revelations, focus turned to the culture and practices at the BBC in the 60s, 70s and 80s and whether a blind eye was turned to his behavior. The BBC is now conducting an inquiry into the era of Savile’s alleged crimes. It is also pursuing a detailed investigation into Hall’s conduct at the BBC. The Hall inquiry’s findings will be published as part of the Savile review later this year.
The BBC is in hot water again, this time over the handling of the Digital Media Initiative, a project to digitize archive content and make it easily accessible to production staff. The project was cancelled last month, but had already cost the broadcaster and taxpayers nearly £100M. Now, the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) contends that it was misled over the status of the initiative during evidence given in 2011 by the BBC and its then-director general Mark Thompson. At the time, Thompson – who is now CEO of the New York Times Company – told the Committee, “There are many programs that are already being made with DMI, and some have gone to air and are going to air with DMI already working.” But at a hearing yesterday, Committee chair Margaret Hodge said, “We were told that there were bits of this system that were working, that you were using them. That wasn’t true. That just wasn’t true.” She has summoned Thompson to answer questions at a July hearing, The Guardian reports.
In a statement, Thompson said, “When I appeared in front of the PAC… I answered all of the questions from Committee members honestly and in good faith. I did so on the basis of information provided to me at the time by the BBC executives responsible for delivering the project.” Thompson has had a hard time leaving the BBC behind. Just as he was starting his New York Times Co. job in November, he was the subject of scrutiny from the flagship paper, and the British media, over the Jimmy Savile/Newsnight saga and was also interviewed for an inquiry into the scandal which erupted just after he left the broadcaster.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Liberace Biopic Goes Global; New Abuse Charges Hit BBC; CNN Shuts Baghdad Bureau; Bolero Buys ‘Tulpa’
HBO Books Deals For ‘Behind The Candelabra’ Around The World
HBO Enterprises has lined up a number of international distribution deals for the recently premiered movie Behind The Candelabra. The Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon has sold to A Company Filmed Entertainment (Central Europe), ARP (France), DCM (Germany, Switzerland), Dutch Filmworks (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Entertainment One (United Kingdom), First Distributors Ltd. (Hong Kong), Hollywood Entertainment (Greece), Lusomundo (Portugal), Medusa (Italy), Shaw Renters Pte Ltd. (Singapore), Ster-Kinekor (South Africa), Svensk Filmindustri (Scandinavia), United King Films (Israel), Village Roadshow (Australia) and Tohokushinsha Film Corporation (Japan). The first foreign theatrical release will be June 7 in the UK.
BBC Gets 150-Plus New Sex Abuse Or Harassment Cases Since October
The BBC says it has received more than 150 new allegations of sexual abuse and harassment since the Jimmy Savile case broke in October. The UK pubcaster said 36 of the new accusations came from people who were younger than 18 at the time of the alleged abuse. The broadcaster would not comment on any specific cases — made by more than 80 people, about half of whom still work at the BBC — but it said in a statement that it was “appalled” by the allegations. “We have launched a series of reviews that aim to understand if there are any issues with the current culture of the BBC or the historic culture and practices from as far back as 1965,” the statement said, “to see what lessons can be learned to prevent this happening again.”
NEW YORK — May 20, 2013 — Deborah Turness, former editor of ITV News, the United Kingdom’s most-watched commercial network news service, has been named President of NBC News. It was announced today by Pat Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group.
Turness joins CNBC President Mark Hoffman and MSNBC President Phil Griffin as part of the NBCUniversal News Group leadership team reporting to Fili-Krushel. She will be based at the NBC News headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and begin her new role on August 5.
As President, Turness will be responsible for all aspects of the NBC News division including the programs “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “Today,” “Meet the Press,” and “Dateline” as well as its news bureaus around the world. She will also oversee all breaking news, investigative and enterprise reporting, along with the division’s digital properties including NBCNews.com. Additionally, she will have oversight of Peacock Productions, an award-winning in-house production company.
A review of internal practices at the BBC that was convened in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal has found that there have been 37 complaints of sexual harassment at the broadcaster in the past six years, but that current incidents are “rare.” Bullying and other forms of “inappropriate behavior” were found to be “much more prominent,” however. In response, the BBC said it would be overhauling its bullying and harassment policy and will also do away with gag clauses in BBC employment contracts.
The Savile crisis exploded last October, nearly a year after the longtime BBC celebrity TV host died. Since then there have been hundreds of allegations of child sex abuse lodged against Savile with some said to have occured on BBC premises. The report (read it here) calls the crisis “a period which shook the BBC to its core.” But according to the findings, it’s bullying that is the biggest current problem facing the broadcaster. Throughout conversations with nearly 1,000 staff members, the report found there was “a strong undercurrent of fear”
James Harding resigned as editor of Rupert Murdoch’s The Times neswspaper in December saying, “It has been made clear to me that News Corporation would like to appoint a new editor of The Times.” Reports suggested that Harding’s departure was the result of upset at The Times’ parent company over the paper’s somewhat critical stance during the phone-hacking scandal that had engulfed News Corp.’s UK press arm, News International. When Harding starts his new job as director of news and current affairs at the BBC on August 12, he’ll be joining another company that has seen its share of recent crises.
The BBC’s news division has been plagued by troubles in the past six months including the Jimmy Savile scandal, botched reporting at the flagship Newsnight program and walkouts by journalists. Its Panorama program is drawing fire this week over allegations that London School of Economics students were put in harm’s way during the filming of a documentary in North Korea.
After the drama that played out in the BBC‘s news division late last year amid the Jimmy Savile and Newsnight crises, the broadcaster has come under further fire regarding one of its news shows. The London School of Economics believes some of its students were endangered during a recent trip to North Korea on which a team of undercover BBC journalists filmed a documentary for the Panorama program. The LSE and its students union have demanded that the BBC withdraw the show which is due to air tonight, but the broadcaster is still going forward. LSE director Craig Calhoun wrote on Twitter today: “Producers of Panorama seem not to have learned any lessons from recent BBC scandals. Consciously chose to endanger LSE students. For what?” In a statement, the BBC said “public interest” in airing the report “is very strong indeed.” It added that such a program “involves some difficult judgements, editorially, practically and ethically and that is why it has been handled at a senior level.”
BAFTA TV nominations have been announced with Hitchcock film The Girl and the BBC’s Last Tango In Halifax, Accused and Twenty Twelve scoring four nods each. On the international side, Danish/Swedish crime drama The Bridge, which FX is remaking in the States, Showtime’s Homeland and HBO’s Girls and Game Of Thrones were each mentioned. Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville also has a nod, but not for the hit period drama which scored no nominations. He’s instead in the comedy acting category for Olympics series Twenty Twelve. When combined with the BAFTA TV Craft Awards, which take place on April 28, The Girl has eight nominations, Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer Parade’s End has seven, Accused has six and the BBC’s cancelled The Hour, plus Last Tango In Halifax, Ripper Street and Twenty Twelve each have five. The BAFTA TV awards will be handed out on May 12 in London. A full list of nominees is below:
Ben Whishaw, Richard II (The Hollow Crown)
Derek Jacobi, Last Tango In Halifax
Sean Bean, Accused (Tracie’s Story)
Toby Jones, The Girl
Anne Reid, Last Tango In Halifax
Rebecca Hall, Parade’s End
Sheridan Smith, Mrs Biggs
Sienna Miller, The Girl
Global Showbiz Briefs: New BBC Chief Takes Reins, HBO & Canal Plus, China’s TV Docu Market, Bona Film Group
New BBC Chief Says “Best Days Lie Ahead”
Today was the first day on the job for the BBC’s new director general, Tony Hall. The broadcaster’s former head of news returned to the Beeb after more than a decade as CEO of the Royal Opera House. The organization he confronted today is in far different shape than it was when he left. After going into crisis mode last October when the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal broke open, the BBC was rocked by the mishandling of a Newsnight report that mistakenly identified a senior politician as an alleged pedophile. Those events led to the resignation of former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days on the job. Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s predecessor, left in September to become CEO of The New York Times Company and under his watch austerity measures were put in place after the license fee that was frozen until 2017. Two major unions went out on strike at the BBC last Thursday in protest over what was referred to as “a modern-day BBC sweatshop” along with bullying claims at the company. Hall made a handful of appointments prior to starting at the BBC, but has yet to name a head of news or head of television. In an email to staff today, he said, “With imagination and hard work, the BBC’s best days lie ahead of us.”
Athens, Ga. – Thirty-nine recipients of the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards were announced today by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The winners, chosen by the Peabody board as the best in electronic media for the year 2012, were named in a ceremony in the Peabody Gallery on the UGA Campus.
The latest Peabody recipients reflect diversity in content, genre and sources of origination.
They include “Girls,” Lena Dunham’s HBO comedy-drama about the young and the feckless in New York; “Putin, Russia and the West,” a compelling portrait of a modern-day czar; “Rapido y Furioso (Fast and Furious),” Univision’s Mexican perspective on the infamous Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive gun-tracking debacle; “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” a sterling magazine series that springboards from athletics; “Robin’s Journey,” a public-service campaign created around “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts’ treatment for a rare blood disease; and “Design Ah!,” an imaginative Japanese series aimed at developing children’s creative vision.
Global Showbiz Briefs: India’s ‘24’, ITV Shifts Mike Blair, iTunes Prices In Oz, Plus JFK & Afghan Docs
Clock To Start Ticking For Indian ’24′
Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor is getting to work on the Indian version of the TV series 24. The actor, who was featured in the final season of Fox/20th TV’s real-time drama, will produce via his Anil Kapoor Film Co. He’ll also play the Jack Bauer character, now reportedly named Jai Singh Rathod, in the local take. According to BollywoodLife, production was due to kick off this week at Kapoor’s Stage 21 studio near Mumbai. Delhi Belly director Abhinay Deo is helming the series and Rensil D’Silva, who’s directing Sanjay Dutt’s Ungli, is scripting. The local broadcast partner is Viacom-owned Colors. Kapoor will next be seen on the big screen in Shootout At Wadala directed by Sanjay Gupta.
UPDATE, WRITETHRU, 4:33 AM: The National Union of Journalists and media and entertainment union Bectu have set a 12-hour walkout at the BBC starting at noon March 28. The action coincides with the start of an indefinite work-to-rule period in which employees do no more than the minimum required by their contracts. The move could affect Easter scheduling and will be the second walkout in recent weeks over compulsory layoffs and excessive workloads, which the unions believe are compromising quality journalism and programming. That’s especially notable given the high-profile snafus at flagship news magazine Newsnight late last year as the corporation was dealing with fallout from the Jimmy Savile sex scandal.
Bectu says management is attempting to create “a modern-day BBC sweatshop” while it forges ahead with a cost-cutting initiative which will zap 2,000 jobs across the group. The BBC has been tightening its belt since revenues were cut drastically through 2016 due to a freeze on the TV license fees that help support it. The upcoming action is also taking a stance on bullying and harassment. Employees have given evidence to the ongoing internal review that sprang from the Savile revelations. The union says
The BBC this morning published 3,000 pages of interviews and correspondence related to the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal and the 2011 shelving of a Newsnight program that would have revealed the late host’s alleged crimes. The documents include few earthshattering revelations, but are laced with internal criticisms and email chains that provide a window onto the workings of the venerable broadcaster whose armor has been severely dinged in the past several months as a result of the combined crises. (Read the full report here.)
The documents, provided by the Pollard Inquiry into the handling of the Newsnight affair, include testimony from key witnesses like Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman, whose evidence has been the focus of much scrutiny given its criticisms of management. He told interviewers that the Pollard Inquiry was being conducted in a “ridiculous fashion” and called the BBC’s behavior regarding the Newsnight report “contemptible.” He further said he’d been surprised by then-editor Peter Rippon’s response when Paxman wanted to pursue the Savile investigation after learning that rival ITV was about to air its own exposé. According to Paxman, Rippon said “I just can’t do this.” Paxman contends the use of the word ‘can’t’ was “very, very unusual… and I didn’t say, ‘What do you mean ‘can’t'? Someone has told you that you can’t, or you physically can’t face it?’” Paxman says he now believes it was a mixture of both. (The BBC said yesterday that Rippon would take over a newly-created post as editor of the BBC online archive). Paxman added that Savile’s behavior was “common gossip” around the corporation, although much of his testimony has been redacted. The BBC said today that 3% of the overall information has been blacked out “for a very limited number of legal reasons.”
BBC Three Orders Reeva Steenkamp Special
Fast-turnaround specialiast Mentorn Media is at it again. The producer has been commissioned by BBC Three for a quickie doc about the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. Steenkamp’s shooting death has been making headlines since she was killed on Valentine’s Day with star athlete Oscar Pistorius accused of murder. He has pleaded not guilty. Nick London is producing and directing for BBC Three. Rick Edwards, who presented Paralympics coverage for Channel 4, will host. Mentorn’s credits include Ricky Gervais’ An Idiot Abroad for Sky and HBO documentary For Neda. It also recently made fast-turnaround docs about Hurricane Sandy and the Aurora, Colorado massacre. Mentorn’s sister company Passion Distribution is handling sales.
Luketic, Former MGM Exec Sutherland Team On Oz Thriller
Los Angeles-based Australian director Alan White is set to direct Reclaim, a psychological thriller about an American couple who come to Australia to adopt a child after their unborn child dies in a car accident. Due to shoot in Oz later this year, the film is the first from a co-venture between U.S.-based Australian director Robert Luketic and Ian Sutherland’s Origin Productions, who will serve as producers with Brian and Josh Etting of L.A.–based Garlin Pictures. Sutherland, a former EVP of international theatrical distribution for MGM, and Luketic have been developing projects for several years. It will be the first Aussie film for White since 2000’s Risk. The screenplay is by Luke Davies (Candy) and Carmine Gaeta. Casting is underway. Arclight Films, which is selling worldwide rights, pitched the project to buyers at the Berlin festival’s European Film Market.- Don Groves
Incoming BBC director general Tony Hall has named James Purnell as director of strategy and digital and has expanded Tim Davie’s BBC Worldwide role. Meanwhile, former head of news, Helen Boaden, is going back to radio. The shifts come as Hall prepares to take over at the head of the broadcaster in March. He does so following the late-2012 sex-abuse and editorial scandals that plagued the corporation and resulted in the resignation of former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days on the job. (The moves also come one day after it was revealed that civil claims have been filed against the BBC on behalf of 31 alleged victims of late host Jimmy Savile.) Hall today said, “I am building a senior team that will define the BBC and public service broadcasting for the next decade. It will be a team that is made up of outstanding talent from outside the BBC combined with the best people from within.” He noted that more changes are to come in the next months, notably the appointment of a new head of news and a new director of BBC Television.
Boaden, who stepped aside in November amid an inquiry into the controversial cancellation of an investigative report by the BBC’s flagship current affairs program, Newsnight, later returned to her post but will now segue out of the division, becoming director of BBC Radio. She was formerly a controller of BBC Radio 4.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Savile Claims Hit BBC, Sony TV In Russia, TLC’s ‘Bizarre ER’, Fremantle’s ‘Family Harmony’ And More
BBC Hit With Civil Claims In Jimmy Savile Scandal
A lawyer acting on behalf of 31 victims of the late Jimmy Savile has lodged civil claims for compensation in the high court against the disgraced host’s estate and the BBC over allegations of sexual abuse. Attorney Alan Collins told The Guardian that all claims are against Savile’s estate with “seven or eight” against the BBC itself, which the suits allege has “vicarious liability” in the case. Another lawyer working on behalf of a further 62 victims told Bloomberg that the action was premature, because parties involved had agreed to wait for the results of the police investigation into Savile. “We do not believe the commencement of litigation at this stage to be either necessary or in our clients’ best interest,” she said. – Joe Utichi
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
In the past few months, the crisis-plagued BBC has repeatedly apologized for its mishandling of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal and this weekend was forced to offer up yet another mea culpa. In a programming gaffe, children’s channel CBeebies re-ran a 2001 episode of kids’ show The Tweenies that included a puppet parody of the pre-scandal Savile. The episode featured the character Max dressed in a tracksuit, a white wig and gold chains while presenting a music show in the style of Top Of The Pops — the iconic BBC show Savile hosted for much of his career — and using Savile’s catchphrases. Savile’s sordid past came to light in October, a year after his death in 2011, and earlier this month a Metropolitan Police report found he had abused children as young as 8, with some indecent activity occurring on BBC premises. The Tweenies ran from 1999 to 2003 but is frequently repeated on the dedicated channel. A BBC spokesman apologized for causing offense over the airing and insisted the program would not be repeated.
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
UPDATE, 4:49 AM: The BBC has responded to the findings of this mornig’s report that exposes the extent of sexual abuse by former BBC host Jimmy Savile. In a statement, the broadcaster said: “As we have made clear, the BBC is appalled that some of the offences were committed on its premises. We would like to restate our sincere apology to the victims of these crimes. The BBC will continue to work with the police to help them investigate these matters. We have also set up the Dame Janet Smith Review to help us understand how these crimes could have been committed and how we can avoid them happening ever again.”
PREVIOUS: While the scandal-plagued BBC has ceased making headlines on a daily basis, a report on sexual abuse allegations against late BBC personality Jimmy Savile could turn attention back to the corporation’s past. The ‘Giving Victims a Voice’ report reveals that the former Top Of The Pops host committed 214 criminal offenses against children and young people – some as young as 8 – over four decades. Released by the Metropolitan Police and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the report says Savile used the celebrity he earned through high-profile BBC hosting gigs like Top Of The Pops and Jim’ll Fix It to gain access to children and dupe institutions, including the BBC itself,
A day after it faced harsh criticism in a review of its response to the Jimmy Savile/Newsnight crisis, the BBC has taken a lambasting from British lawmakers over a severance payment to former director general George Entwistle. The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament slammed the pubcaster for a “cavalier use of public money” when it agreed to pay Entwistle £450,000 ($714,000) upon his November resignation, twice the provisions in his contract. Entwistle resigned amid furor sparked by the BBC’s handling of the Savile sex scandal and questionable editorial decisions made at flagship current affairs program Newsnight. “Public servants should not be rewarded for failure. But that was exactly what happened when the BBC Trust paid off [Entwistle],” the committee said. In response, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten again defended the move to swiftly resolve Entwistle’s severance, telling BBC Radio 4 today, “The legal advice we had is: if we fought, we would have fetched up a bigger bill.” He also called the committee’s report “shabby.” The committee said it has asked for an official examination of the BBC’s severance payments and benefits for senior managers which have totaled over £4M to 10 people since 2010.