An investigation into a BBC "Newsnight" program that proved flawed has concluded that its production was marked by a series of "unacceptable" failures, the BBC said Monday.
It vowed to move quickly to strengthen the editorial process and restore public trust in the venerable British broadcasting organization.
The "Newsnight" program, which aired on November 2, focused on allegations of child abuse from the 1970s and 1980s at children's homes in Wales. It said that two victims had alleged that a Conservative, Thatcher-era politician -- whom it did not identify by name -- had been among their abusers.
The report was prepared in collaboration with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which had worked in the past with the BBC and other media outlets on investigative stories.
After Internet speculation identified Lord McAlpine, a senior political figure of the 1980s, as the abuser, the victim admitted he had identified the wrong man.
The BBC aired an apology the day after the program was broadcast, but it did little to contain the fallout from the false accusation.
The investigation into the program was carried out by BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie, who noted that the complex story had moved from commission to transmission in six days, an unusually short period for the BBC.
In addition, the program's editorial management structure "had been seriously weakened since the editor stood aside and one of the deputy editors left the organization," it said.
At the time, the BBC had established a separate chain of command for all stories related to Jimmy Savile, its late TV presenter who has been accused of sex abuse.
But it was not clear whether the Wales story was regarded as Savile-related, McAlpine's report said. "As a consequence there was ambiguity around who was taking the ultimate editorial responsibility for the Newsnight report, particularly in the days leading up to the day of transmission," it said.
In addition, some "basic journalistic checks were not completed" during the editorial process, it continued. "Specifically, identification was not confirmed by photograph with the first victim. The second victim could not be traced in order to provide up to date corroboration ... No right of reply was offered to the unnamed individual at the center of the allegation."
The "key parties" did not agree on who was responsible for the final editorial approval for the story, he added.
In a statement, the BBC executive board announced actions it said were intended to restore public trust in the organization's journalism:
-- the re-establishment of a single management structure for all stories, including those about Savile;
-- the appointment of Karen O'Connor, who has two decades of television journalism experience, to serve as acting editor of "Newsnight";
-- the beginning of a disciplinary process, "where appropriate";
-- the hiring of a non-executive director of the BBC who has "a proven track record of overseeing journalism."
"The full report will be used to inform disciplinary proceedings, which will begin immediately," the statement said.
"The failings identified by Mr. MacQuarrie are unacceptable, and the Executive Board is taking clear and decisive action," it said.
The announcements followed the weekend resignation of George Entwistle as director general.
On Monday, the media organization announced that two other BBC executives had "stepped aside" pending a review into the network's handling of Savile case.
News Director Helen Boaden and her deputy, Steve Mitchell, were asked to "surrender all their responsibilities" pending the outcome of the review, the BBC said in a statement.
"The BBC wants to make it absolutely clear that neither Helen Boaden nor Stephen Mitchell had anything to do with the failed Newsnight investigation into Lord McAlpine," the statement said.
"Whilst recognizing this, the BBC believes there is a lack of clarity in the lines of command and control in BBC News as a result of some of those caught up in the ... review being unable to exercise their normal authority."
The BBC said it expected the two to return to their positions after the review.