[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 20:10 GMT 21:10 UK
Queen clips puts focus on BBC integrity
By Torin Douglas
BBC media correspondent

Few would disagree with the verdict of John Whittingdale, the chairman of the all-party Culture Media and Sport Committee, on the revelation that the BBC had misrepresented the Queen in a trailer for a documentary.

A still from the five-part programme
The footage of the Queen had been assembled in the wrong order

"Undoubtedly this has been a very serious blow to the honesty, integrity and the reputation of the BBC," he said.

"One of its greatest assets is its reputation for truth and honesty and that has been damaged."

The damage was inadvertently caused by the controller of BBC1, Peter Fincham.

He told journalists at the channel's autumn launch that the Queen had walked out of a photo-shoot "in a huff", after being asked to remove her crown by Anne Liebowitz.

Footage appeared to show her walking out, but in fact it had been assembled in the wrong order by the production company RDF Media.

Unknown to Fincham, she'd actually been walking in.

The timing could hardly have been worse.

'Young talent'

The BBC's apology to the Queen came hard on the heels of its first-ever fine from Ofcom, for deceiving the Blue Peter audience over a phone-in competition.

It's desperately important that we restore trust
Michael Grade
Former BBC chairman

The chief executive of ITV and former BBC chairman, Michael Grade, expressed sympathy for the BBC over the latest incident.

He put the blame firmly on the rush by broadcasters to employ young, untrained programme-makers, particularly in independent production companies.

"We are in an age today where there has been a huge influx of young talent into the industry as it expands," he said.

"They have not been trained properly, they don't understand that you do not lie to audiences at any time, in any show - whether it's news or whether it's a quiz show."

'Shared judgments'

Mr Grade said there'd been too much cutting corners.

"It's desperately important that we restore trust and that the programme-makers get to understand - whether through hard lessons or through training or a combination of both - that you do not lie to audiences under any circumstances."

In phone-ins, many listeners and viewers said they had indeed lost trust in the Corporation.

One caller to Radio 5 Live spoke from personal experience, as a freelance TV producer, working for the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV.

That leads people to think that they might be out of a job if their programme isn't lively enough
Steve Hewlett
Senior ITV executive

"There is huge pressure on directors to come up with the most dramatic way of putting across their message, to boost ratings," she told Matthew Bannister.

"It is so difficult to get decent programmes made that the temptation to just flam things up a bit is very, very high.

"But this time they did something quite ridiculous, in saying this about the Queen."

Steve Hewlett, a former editor of Panorama and senior ITV executive, told the programme he could not have put it better.

"Television is more competitive than it has ever been, between all the channels," he said.

"That leads people to think that they might be out of a job if their programme isn't lively enough."

That makes it even more important that broadcasting organisations have the right culture.

"BBC editorial management relies on people at every level exercising good judgment - from the researcher right up to the editor and ultimately to the director general," Mr Hewlett said.

"It only works if you have shared judgments, shared assumptions and certain shared standards.

"And the boss class have to take responsibility for the culture and ethos of the organisations they are running."

It remains to be seen how the BBC's boss class responds to these new blows to its reputation for trust.

BBC One's controller takes responsibility for the mistake


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific