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BBC chief resigns

By CASSANDRA VINOGRAD

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10 2012 11:43 p.m. MST

A Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 photo from files showing BBC Director General, George Entwistle, leaving Portcullis House in London after giving evidence to the Parliament Select Committee. The BBC?s director general said Saturday that it should not have aired a report that wrongly implicated a politician in a child sex-abuse scandal, admitting that the program further damaged trust in a broadcaster already reeling from the fallout over its decision not to air similar allegations against one of its star hosts. George Entwistle?s comments followed an embarrassing retreat for the BBC, which apologized Friday for its Nov. 2 ?Newsnight? TV show on alleged sex abuse in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s. During the program, victim Steve Messham claimed he had been abused by a senior Conservative Party figure. The BBC didn?t name the alleged abuser, but online rumors focused on Alistair McAlpine, a Conservative Party member of the House of Lords. On Friday, he issued a fierce denial and threatened to sue. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, Flle)

Associated Press

LONDON — The BBC's top executive resigned Saturday night after the prestigious broadcaster's marquee news magazine wrongly implicated a British politician in a child sex-abuse scandal, deepening the crisis that exploded after it decided not to air similar allegations against one of its own stars who police now say was one of the nation's worst pedophiles.

In a brief statement outside BBC headquarters, George Entwistle said he decided to do the "honorable thing" and step down after just eight weeks in the job.

"The wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader," he said.

It was a rapid about-face for Entwistle, a 23-year BBC veteran who earlier Saturday had insisted he had no plans to resign despite growing questions about his leadership and the BBC's integrity in the wake of the scandals.

Lawmaker John Whittingdale, who chairs a parliamentary committee on the news media, said Entwistle had no choice but to go, as the BBC's management appears to have "lost their grip" on the publicly funded organization.

"I think that what has happened in the last few days has immensely weakened his authority and credibility," Whittingdale said. "It would have been very difficult for him to continue in those circumstances."

The scandal comes at a sensitive time for Britain's media establishment, struggling to recover from an ongoing phone-hacking scandal which brought down the nation's best-selling Sunday newspaper, led to the arrests of dozens of journalists and prompted a judge-led inquiry into journalistic ethics and the ties between politics and the news media.

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