BBC director general Tim Davie has spoken publicly for the first time about the recent allegations against Russell Brand, who was a major figure at the channel for many years.
On the first day of Cambridge at the Royal Television Society, where Brand was – unsurprisingly – a regular topic of conversation on stage, he was asked in his first question as part of his UK keynote what the allegations meant for the BBC.
Last weekend the comedian, actor and TV presenter was the subject of a joint investigation by The times, The Sunday times And Channel 4 messages in which four women accused him of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse between 2006 and 2013, all of which he has vehemently denied.
“I think we just can’t be complacent. And this is not an issue that can simply be labeled as entirely historic,” said Davie, who was previously the BBC’s audio director when Brand resigned in 2008 following a controversy on his BBC Radio 2 show that was described as a serious editorial breach. . “I think this is an important and healthy dialogue about the deep power imbalances… I think there is a deep responsibility now on the leaders and we have been working on this for a while.”
Davie said he was “proud of the progress” at the BBC, which he said involved putting in place clear processes so that there was “very, very strong support” and an “impeccable” whistleblowing process.
“There have been deep problems with misogyny and abuse of power… and we just have to be extremely vigilant, not accept this and create a culture where there is trust and where coming forward with information is taken very seriously,” he said. , adding that he thought the BBC’s record in recent years – which has seen a number of scandals involving high-profile employees – showed that there was “never a sense that we wanted to cover up anything.”
Davie, who announced that the BBC would launch an internal investigation into his time at the corporation following the allegations against Brand, also said he had not ruled out an external inquiry into the matter.
Earlier in the day, YouTube VP EMEA Pedro Pina was asked about YouTube’s decision to prevent Brand from receiving advertising money from his popular YouTube channel. He said this prevented him from “making a living” from the platform.
Unlike the BBC and Channel 4, which have both removed elements of Russell Brand content from their streaming services, Pina said YouTube would only remove “harmful” content under the guidelines, adding that “at this time, to the extent we know that this is not the case.” I do not own harmful content from Russell Brand.” However, he did admit that they had removed one of Brand’s videos in the past, a video that was accused of spreading COVID misinformation.
“But if we find out in the coming days, hours, weeks that there is more reason to take more action, we will certainly do so.”