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BBC news scandal: How big of a threat to British journalism?

The BBC's director general has resigned after a two-part scandal at the British Broadcasting Corporation – one of which wrongly implicated a member of Britain's Conservative Party as a child molester.

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A general view of the BBC headquarters in London, Sunday, Nov. 11.

Alastair Grant/AP

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Disciplinary action is under way today against BBC staff involved in a botched report on its flagship current affairs show as the corporation struggles to get a grip on one of its worst crises and perhaps the greatest challenge to its prestige in its 90-year history.

The scandal, which led to the resignation of the new BBC director general on Saturday after just 54 days on the job, and which may yet result in the departure of the chairman of the independent trust that governs the news organization, centers on two separate items prepared for the “Newsnight” current affairs TV program.

One, broadcast on Nov. 2, wrongly alleged that a senior conservative politician from Margaret Thatcher’s administration sexually abused boys. That error was grave enough in itself, but the damage to the BBC was exacerbated by the fact that it was already facing questions about why it had shelved a "Newsnight" investigation into sex abuse allegations against one of its biggest stars, the late Jimmy Savile.

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