Enron’ Slur by Brit Politico As BBC Posts £299m Deficit

16 July 2003

The BBC on Tuesday revealed a pre-tax loss of £299 million ($475.29m; €426.27m) following heavy investment in expanded news coverage, online services and new digital channels.

The corporation, Europe’s largest publicly-funded broadcaster, also saw its operating deficit more than double from £173.4m to £406.6m.

Its critics were lying in wait. Not least government loyalists on a parliamentary select committee, seeking revenge for the BBC’s alleged anti-war stance over the attack on Iraq.

Questioning BBC executives at a committee session Tuesday, Labour MP Chris Bryant, fulminated: “This feels more like a kind of Enron annual report than a BBC annual report.”

He accused the BBC’s report of complacency for its failure to include any criticisms of the corporation. The sole acknowledgement of any shortcomings, accused Bryant, was the corporation’s failure to attract ethnic minority viewers. “At what point would you want to advance any criticism of the BBC at all?” he rhetorically enquired.

In this new dawn of fiscal probity, men of honour would rather be compared to Stalin than Enron. BBC director general Greg Dyke was no exception.

“Can I say I deeply resent the use of the word Enron,” he blustered. “Enron was a corrupt financially-managed business. That's what you're implying.”

An apology was demanded from Bryant – but in best political tradition has yet to materialize.

Data sourced from: multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff