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BBC is full of overpaid penpushers says Patten: And we need to do more to tackle problem, he admits
Lord Patten announced he wants to stay on as chairman of BBC TrustHe battered away suggestions that he didn't give BBC enough attention because of his 10 jobs, saying he worked more than his contract stipulates
Entwistle seen entering solicitors' office where Pollard Review conducted
02:00 GMT, 27 November 2012
BBC chairman Lord Patten yesterday admitted the corporation was ‘over-managed’ by a vast number of highly paid, jargon-spouting bureaucrats.
And despite overseeing a shambolic period encompassing the Lord McAlpine scandal and subsequent departure of director general George Entwistle, Lord Patten hinted he would consider another term in his 110,000-a-year part-time role – which he described as ‘exciting’.
‘I am 68. I hadn’t thought the job would be as exciting as it turned out to be. I would like to help the BBC face up to a digital future,’ he told the annual Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference.
Admission: Lord Patten yesterday admitted the corporation was 'over managed'
He also batted away suggestions that
he did not give the BBC enough attention because he has ten other jobs,
claiming he worked more than the three to four days a week his contract
But Lord Patten, who was appointed last year on a four-year contract, conceded the BBC is ‘both over-managed and under-managed’.
He said: ‘The tendency towards over-management comes from the sheer
weight and numbers of senior people, their pay, their titles, their
‘I worry that this means those at the top of the organisation can become
distracted – diverted from the job in hand and the central question of
whether the programmes are good enough.
‘This will be a fairly familiar concern to BBC-watchers and is often
frustrating for our friends. We’re on the case, progress is being made,
but we need to do more.
The lack of a clear line of responsibility and
co-operation between senior executives were problems of
‘under-management’ and there needed to be more ‘self-criticism’, he
Lord Patten also defended Mr Entwistle, who was forced to resign after
just 54 days in the job when Newsnight wrongly linked former Tory
treasurer Lord McAlpine to a child abuse inquiry in North Wales.
Friends have expressed concern for the 50-year-old, who was photographed
looking bearded, drawn and a little dishevelled yesterday as he gave
evidence to the independent inquiry investigating Newsnight’s decision
to axe a programme about the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal last year.
Visiting lawyers: Former BBC Director General George Entwistle, left, arrives at a London solicitors office which is the venue of the BBC's Pollard Review
Lord Patten said: ‘Given everything that went wrong, it was the right
thing for him to go when he did. But that should in no way justify the
way his reputation is now being traduced. I don’t agree with character
He added that Mr Entwistle had been wrongly depicted as a ‘hapless and
inadequate figure’ and his reputation, built up over ‘23 years of
outstanding service’ to the BBC had been ‘trashed’.
It is expected that former head of Sky News Nick Pollard, who is running the inquiry, will reach his conclusions in December.
The corporation is ‘assisting’ with the legal fees of BBC staff involved
in the inquiry, including Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, head of news
Helen Boaden, and her deputy Stephen Mitchell.
Alan Maclean QC, the barrister who represented Tony Blair and Alastair
Campbell during the Hutton Inquiry, is advising Mr Pollard and is
estimated to be able to charge around a 1,000 a day for his services.
Bearded: The 500,000 payout George Entwistle has received for leaving his position with the BBC does not seem to have been spent on grooming products
Lord Patten commented: ‘The Pollard Inquiry has been thorough and as a
consequence it has been expensive.
‘Like the Leveson Inquiry, it will only be worth the expense if we can
act decisively to make clear improvements on the back of it.’
‘Once we get the Pollard report, it will I hope be much clearer to the Trust what went wrong and how.
‘There may well be consequences for some of the individuals involved. We
will then need to roll our sleeves up and work alongside the new
director general to put things right.’
Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall will take over the role in March.
Tim Davie will continue as acting director general until then.
A BBC Trust spokesman said: 'Lord Patten was answering a question about
whether he would agree to stay on for a second term to argue the case
for Charter renewal.
'All he replied was that he was committed to trying to restore the reputation and standing of the BBC.'