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Report finds bullying a 'real concern' at BBC

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A report into staff behaviour at the BBC commissioned after the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal concluded on Thursday that sexual harassment was rare, but bullying was a "very real concern".

It said bullying was not "pervasive or endemic" at the British Broadcasting Corporation but was nonetheless "visible, frequent and consistent".

The review was ordered into BBC policies on sexual harassment after revelations that late presenter Savile had abused children throughout his career, including on BBC premises. It was later widened to include behaviour in the workplace.

A police investigation concluded in January that Savile was one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders.

The 80-page "Respect at Work" report, compiled by lawyer Dinah Rose, found evidence of some sexual harassment at the BBC "but it is now very rare". Many of the submissions it received dated back to "10, 20 or more years ago".

It said: "There have been 37 formal complaints of sexual harassment over the past six years, an average of only six per year, out of a population of approximately 22,000 staff and 60,000 freelancers.

"Sexual harassment was not a common theme of the experiences of unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour reported by contributors."

The report did find evidence of inappropriate behaviour and bullying at the corporation, following complaints by trade unions who say cost-cutting is making the problem worse.

"Often this behaviour appears to go unchallenged by senior managers. Some individuals are seen as being 'untouchable' due to their perceived value to the BBC," it said.

"There is confusion as to what constitutes robust management of performance and what is bullying."

The report said: "It is not pervasive or endemic in today's BBC but it is visible, frequent and consistent enough to be a very real concern."

BBC director-general Tony Hall said parts of the report made for "uncomfortable reading".

"We need to be honest about our shortcomings and single-minded in addressing them," he said.

"I want zero tolerance of bullying and a culture where people feel able to raise concerns and have the confidence that they will be dealt with appropriately."

Hall announced that from now on, the BBC would no longer include so-called "gagging clauses" in new contracts to make it easier for staff to speak out.

"The measures we are taking today, including the removal of so-called 'gagging clauses', show our commitment to change," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130502/report-finds-bullying-real-concern-at-bbc