BBC apologizes for 'failure in behavior'

Broadcaster kept thousands from phone-ins

LONDON -- However much they try to draw a line under the premium-phone-line scandals of last year, British broadcasters just don't seem to be able to put the matter behind them.

A day after ITV was fined a record $11.2 million for a shopping list of quiz-related misdemeanors, the BBC was forced to apologize for keeping 106,000 pounds ($206,500) from premium-rate phone calls that should have been donated to charity.

The income, from about a dozen shows that the BBC did not name, had been retained by Audiocall, a BBC subsidiary responsible for handling call-in quizzes.

Following an internal inquiry by the BBC's governing body, BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons said there had been no "legal impropriety" but rather "a failure in the behavior of these staff and the BBC's own systems" that amounted to a "serious misjudgment."

He also insisted that senior program execs had not known about the problems. His sentiments were echoed by an e-mail to staff sent by BBC director general Mark Thompson.

"All the money has been paid to the charities involved, with interest," Thompson wrote. "The oversight has been remedied. Clearly, this must never be allowed to happen again."
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