Trust demands change to management culture
The BBC Trust says management culture at the BBC must change, after it was highly criticised in the Pollard Review, and it calls on Tony Hall to make it his 'first and top priority' when he starts as director general.
It urges those at the top to change the way they behave and to set an example for the rest of the organisation.
'Taking initiative and responsibility, sharing information, embracing criticism. That means persuading staff at all levels to abandon the sort of insularity, leaking and distrust that is unveiled in this report,' it stated in its response to the Newsnight inquiry, led by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard.
Lord Patten, who said that all material relating to the £2m inquiry would be published next month, told a press conference on Wednesday that he found the 'lack of professional camaraderie and collegiate behaviour' unveiled by Pollard within BBC News 'surprising'.'Personal distrust'
Pollard said an 'element of personal distrust' within the division hampered attempts to deal with the fallout of the decision to scrap Newsnight's Jimmy Savile investigation.
He found that management was 'completely incapable' of dealing with the events and pointed to 'a critical lack of leadership and co-ordination'.
He said that newsrooms could only operate with trust and confidence and that these were missing in this instance.
The BBC, which accepts the report and its recommendations without reservation, has said it will develop a plan to address the issues of how it works, communicates and makes decisions. 'The priority is to create a BBC that is more united and single-minded,' the corporation said.
Pollard's key recommendations
- Review BBC's news and editorial management but not everything needs repair
- Reconsider the director general's role as an editor in chief
- Look at roles and responsibilities at the top of the BBC and how it interacts with News
- Address rigid management chains in News and promote more initiative at all levels
- Draft guidelines for the MRPL and put them into practice as soon as possible
- Share important information
- Clarify the role of the Editors' Blog and decide whether it's more trouble than it's worth
- Employ good journalists and have faith in them. Gather credible evidence and rely on it.
- Don't let a poisonous atmosphere develop on programme teams
- Be prepared to hand over a story to another programme if it needs more work
'News must be independent but it is not a silo,' insisted Dame Fiona Reynolds, the BBC's senior independent director. She also added that more rules and bureaucracy were not the solution.
The BBC will also determine who has editorial oversight in its senior ranks when Tony Hall takes up his post.
In an immediate response to Pollard, the BBC said it would replace the editor and deputy editor of Newsnight and refresh the programme. It follows Pollard's conclusion that the decision to drop the Savile investigation was 'seriously flawed', as well as its subsequent broadcast of a report which wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine as a child abuser.Tighter grip
Management will also tighten its grip on high-risk programmes and investigations across the BBC. The role of the Managed Risk Programmes List - which alerts management to potentially risky stories - will be strengthened.
The decision by Stephen Mitchell, the deputy director of news who resigned on Wednesday, to remove the Savile report from this list was deemed a 'serious mistake' by Pollard and meant that Vision was unaware of any possible conflict with the BBC One tribute programmes.
In a statement, Mitchell, who has been at the BBC for more than 38 years, said he disagreed with Pollard's criticism of him but felt 'vindicated' that the review found he had put no undue pressure on Peter Rippon to shelve the report.
The role of the Editors' Blog, which published Newsnight editor Peter Rippon's 'flawed' explanation of his decision-making process, has also been called into question. Pollard queried whether the blog was intended as a public-relations tool or an extension of the BBC's journalism.
Tim Davie, acting director general, said in the press conference that he was working through the disciplinary process with other individuals and that 'proportionate action' would be taken where appropriate. Adrian Van Klaveren - who had acting responsibility for the McAlpine Newsnight report - will move from controller of 5 live to a non-news senior role. He received a round of applause from 5 live colleagues at a meeting on Wednesday.
'The BBC portrayed by the Pollard Review is not fundamentally flawed, but has been chaotic,' said the trust. 'That now needs to change.'