BBC: Viewer Trust 'Recovering to Previous Levels' After 'Turbulent' Year
LONDON -- The BBC on Tuesday said in its annual report that public trust was "recovering to previous levels" after "one of the most turbulent years" in the history of the U.K. public broadcaster.
"This has truly been a year like no other, with some incredible highs and some desperate lows," said BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten. "In both, there are lessons that we must learn."
He explained: "The Olympics was a high watermark, both in terms of content and in sign-posting the way to a digital future. It was evidence that at its best, the BBC remains the world's greatest broadcaster, providing coverage of a scale, quality and ambition to the whole nation in a way that I believe no other broadcaster could."
Added Patten: "But it was also one of the most turbulent years in the BBC's history. While the priority is clearly the impact on his victims, the Jimmy Savile affair and all that came after it revealed some serious weaknesses in the BBC's culture and behaviors."
The BBC also said on Tuesday that it's spent $8 million (£5.3 million) on three investigations tied to the Savile scandal.
Plus, new BBC director general Tony Hall provided an update on how he is addressing the issues raised by the Savile affair and other recent controversies.
"I am extremely proud of the BBC that I have seen and experienced over the last four months," said Hall. "This is a creative organization that produces brilliant programs. And whilst this annual report covers a period of time that predates my arrival, for me it highlights the great successes that we are capable of achieving whilst also reminding me that there is much we can and must learn from some terrible events of the past."
Citing recent debate about higher-than-required severance payments and a failed expensive digitization project, he added: "The BBC has not always been the steward of public money that it should have been. This is changing and we now need to take further steps to ensure that the BBC is better run and more efficient."
The BBC is funded via annual fee payments from taxpayers.
The BBC reported $7.71 billion in revenue (£5.10 billion) for the fiscal year 2012-2013 that ended in March, up from $7.69 billion in revenue (£5.09 billion) last year.
The U.K. public broadcaster also said it spent $7.41 billion (£4.90 billion) on operating costs, compared with $7.27 billion (£4.81 billion) during 2011-2012. That left it with a surplus of $496 million (328 million pounds), down from $588 million (389 million pounds) last year.
The annual report also mentioned pension payments for former BBC CEO George Entwistle, who left late last year in the wake of the Savile scandal, of $1.65 million (£1.09 million), BBC COO Caroline Thomson of $2.90 million (£1.92 million) and for former BBC News head Helen Boaden, who now oversees the BBC's radio operations, of $2.27 million (£1.5 million).
BBC star salaries were down 1 percent in the latest fiscal year.