BBC Executives Face Grilling in Parliament Over Exit Package for Ex-Boss

George Entwistle - P 2012

Representatives of the U.K. public broadcaster face questions about George Entwistle's much-criticized $715,000 pay-out.


LONDON - A U.K. parliamentary committee will on Thursday question BBC executives about the $715,000 (£450,000) exit package for George Entwistle, who recently resigned as director general after just 54 days in the top post.

Entwistle threw in the towel 10 days ago on a Saturday night following a mistaken report in flagship news show Newsnight that had connected a British politician to a child abuse scandal.

The BBC Trust, the governing body of the U.K. public broadcaster, decided to give him a full year's salary, double his entitlement under his contract. It argued that his continued help with a couple of internal probes would be needed. Plus, chairman Chris Patten said the arrangement allowed the BBC to move on quickly. Entwistle was entitled to 12 months pay if fired, and Patten said he likely would have been pushed out if he hadn't stepped down.

Politicians and others criticized the payout as too high. Maria Miller, the British culture secretary, called it "hard to justify."

The members of the parliamentary committee will get to question BBC CFO Zarin Patel, director of BBC rights and business affairs Bal Samra and Anthony Fry, a member of the BBC Trust. It wasn't immediately clear what the result of the hearing would be.

The same parliamentary committee last month published a report that criticized "off-payroll" arrangements at the BBC that allow the broadcaster and freelancers to pay lower taxes.

Twitter: @georgszalai