BBC 'gaffed' over Kentucky recruit

Unimpressed MPs report on the BBC's latest gaffe
Unimpressed MPs report on the BBC's latest gaffe

By Alex Stevenson

Hiring an American to oversee the BBC's northern move opened it up to "self-inflicted and predictable ridicule", MPs have said.

The Commons' culture, media and sport committee's comment came in a report on the BBC which warns incoming chairman Lord Patten has "much to get to grips with".

Among its wider criticisms of the BBC Trust's strategic review, which it said "do not move the BBC on", its report singled out the decision to hire Guy Bradshaw from Kentucky as its 'migration manager'.

"Such decisions cannot simply be dismissed as inconsequential gaffes," the report stated. "They lower the esteem of the BBC, its senior management and the trust in the eyes of the public and its own staff.

"It is a task for the incoming chairman to ensure that the BBC is seen always to lead by example in the future."

John Whittingdale, the committee's chair, added: "The decision - particularly regrettable in the current climate - to appoint a change manager who had to commute from the United States, cannot be dismissed as an inconsequential gaffe.

"The incoming chairman will need to ensure the BBC, as a publicly accountable body, always leads by example."

A BBC spokesperson said Mr Bradshaw had been cleared after an internal audit had confirmed "he had the necessary migration and project experience". He remains in place as an "essential member of the team".

The committee's report warned that Lord Patten will have to resolve the mostly unanswered "big questions" about the BBC's content and how it is delivered.

MPs were critical of the short, private negotiation between the BBC and the government which led to the settlement for the new licence fee.

"We appreciate that time was of the essence in difficult circumstances, but if the BBC is going to continue to benefit from a universal licence fee then it is essential that the viewers who pay that licence fee, and parliament, are involved when these kind of far reaching decisions are taken," Mr Whittingdale said.

A BBC Trust spokesperson said: "The Trust does not underestimate the challenges presented by the new licence fee settlement.

"We and the BBC Executive have been working on plans to live within this new financial reality, which we have said will inevitably involve some tough choices.

"The new strategy for the BBC published last year provides a clear framework for these decisions, and we have always said that we will consult the public before any final decisions are taken."


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