The Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2: statement from BBC Management
The BBC Director-General, Mark Thompson, reported to a meeting of the BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee earlier today on the circumstances surrounding a broadcast of the Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2 on 18 October.
The Director-General made it clear that there had been a serious breach of editorial compliance that allowed grossly offensive material to be broadcast, which should never have happened. He also reiterated his regret that any suffering had been caused to Andrew Sachs, his granddaughter and family as a result and expressed regret that the broadcast had caused serious public offence.
Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, reported on the known facts behind the making of the programme, its content and what had occurred during the editorial supervision and compliance of the broadcast.
The Director-General has accepted the resignation of Lesley Douglas, the Controller of BBC Radio 2, this morning.
The presenter Jonathan Ross will be suspended from all broadcasting for the BBC for a 12-week period, ending in mid-January 2009. He will not be paid by the BBC during this period: the fees that would have been paid will be deducted from his BBC contract.
Mark Thompson said: "The ultimate editorial responsibility for BBC programmes lies with producers and editorial managers. The consequences of errors of judgement are therefore more serious for managers.
"Nonetheless, Jonathan Ross's contribution to this edition of the Russell Brand Show was utterly unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go uncensured or without sanction. A 12-week suspension is an exceptional step, but I believe it is a proportionate response to Jonathan's role in this unhappy affair.
"Jonathan Ross has already made a comprehensive and unreserved personal apology to Andrew Sachs and his grand-daughter. I believe that he fully understands the seriousness of what has happened. I have made very clear to him the central importance of the clause in his contract about not bringing the BBC into disrepute. We agree that nothing like this must ever happen again and that tight discipline will be required for the future."
At the meeting with the BBC Trust, the Director-General outlined a series of proposed management actions to be carried out as a matter of urgency. After discussion, the Trust approved the following actions:
A comprehensive review of compliance procedures across all radio output in the Audio & Music division to be carried out immediately by the Deputy Director-General, with recommendations for action to be delivered to the BBC Trust by December.
With immediate effect, the Director of BBC Audio & Music will ensure that all programmes are re-assessed for editorial risk and all those identified as representing a high risk have additional and strong oversight.
Special sessions will be held over the next six weeks, led by the Director-General and Deputy Director-General, to highlight to all senior editorial leaders and compliance staff across the BBC the serious editorial and compliance failures identified in this case, and the lessons to be learnt to prevent it happening again.
BBC management's Editorial Standards Board will lead a study into where the appropriate boundaries of taste and standards should lie across all BBC output. The conclusions will be reported to the BBC Trust and will inform the revision of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines which is currently underway and is scheduled to be completed in 2009.
BBC Press Office