The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a semi-autonomous public service broadcaster in the United Kingdom providing television and radio programmes. It is funded by an annual television licence fee charged to all British households, companies and organisations using the service. The fee is set annually by the British Government and agreed by Parliament. With more than 23,000 staff globally, it is the world's largest broadcaster. Founded in October 1922, it was initially privately owned but became a non-commercial entity in 1927. Its first transmission as the BBC went out in 1934, and an expanded service (now named the BBC Television Service) started from Alexandra Palace in 1936. It is governed by the BBC Trust and operates under a Royal Charter.
BBC pays HK$2.23m to Alistair McAlpine over defamation
The BBC will pay a former British politician £185,000 (HK$2.23 million) in damages over a news report that led to him being falsely accused of child sex abuse.
"The BBC has agreed terms with Lord McAlpine to settle his claim of libel against the corporation," said a BBC statement on Thursday. "The settlement is comprehensive and reflects the gravity of the allegations that were wrongly made."
The statement confirmed that Alistair McAlpine, who was Conservative Party treasurer under former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, would receive £185,000 plus costs and a statement would be read in court to apologise for the allegations.
McAlpine responded: "I am delighted to have reached a quick and early settlement with the BBC. I have been conscious that any settlement will be paid by the licence fee-payers, and have taken that into account in reaching agreement with the BBC.
"We will now be continuing to seek settlements from other organisations that have published defamatory remarks and individuals who have used Twitter to defame me."
The BBC has already apologised for a report broadcast by its flagship current affairs programme Newsnight about abuse at a children's home in Wrexham in Wales in the 1970s. The report did not name the politician, but he was quickly identified on social networking sites.
The false allegations, plus criticism for spiking a report about child abuse claims surrounding late presenter Jimmy Savile, plunged the BBC into crisis.