BBC bosses face massive pay cuts

BBC chairman Lord Patten has signaled the end of the BBC salary gravy train where top execs, like Mark Thompson, earn £834,000 a year. The issue has come to the fore with news that deputy director general Mark Byford quits with a redundancy package worth £950,000, paid for by licence payers.

Sympathy shortfall

"The biggest issue for the public is senior executive pay, because what's happened does seem to fly in the face of public service ethos," said Patten in an interview with journalist Andrew Marr.

"And I think we can deal with all that; and if we do so, we'll deal with one of the most toxic reasons for the public's lack of sympathy for the BBC as an institution, even though they like enormously what it does."

What is likely is some kind of pay cap, though it's unclear - and not very likely - whether such a cap would also extend to its "talent' i.e people like Andrew Marr himself and entertainers.

Recently economist Will Hutton produced a report on public sector salaries which demanded that senior civil servants pay should be fair but also "seen to be fair".

How radical?

Does that mean that top bench BBC execs should not be paid any more than 20 times - as was previously suggested by the Hutton Review of Fair Pay - than their lowest paid staff?

Again, probably not. A junior film crew operative earns around £14,000. Multiply that amount by 20 and you get £280,000. Some distance from Thompson's £834,000 a year, a sum that is surely corrosively damaging to him and to many of his also extremely well paid colleagues.

We don't yet know the details of Patten's report. He has promised radical change. But a £400,000 pay cut is probably too radical, unfortunately.
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