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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
BBC annual report: Press views
BBC Director-General Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke comes under fire from the press
The BBC launched its annual report on Wednesday and the collected British press has given its reaction to the last 12 months at the corporation.

The Daily Telegraph

For some licence fee payers, BBC director generals and performance bonuses simply should not mix. When one gets the other, it is traditionally a cue for outrage. Yesterday was no exception as Greg Dyke picked up a 91,000 bonus on top of his 347,000 salary for meeting various performance-related targets.

That those targets - a combination of achieving savings and reaching audience figures - were set by a board of governors chaired by one of Dyke's great pals, Sir Christopher Bland, merely accentuated the suspicion that, as the Daily Mail put it, the BBC is "rewarding failure".

In the past year, BBC1's audience share has slipped, serious programmes such as Panorama and Omnibus have been marginalised while a string of expensive dramas and comedies have flopped. The BBC also lost the rights to Premiership football highlights.

David Elstein, the former boss of Channel 5 and once seen as a rival for the director general's job, believes the bonus is "trivial" compared with what Dyke gave up when he left a 750,000 a year job in the private sector.

"He certainly deserves a bonus. He's done pretty well. He's lifted morale and reminded people that creative performance is the key to the BBC's success," says Elstein.

The Independent

The BBC spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of licence payers' money last year awarding its top staff bonus payments and giving lavish pay-offs to senior staff who found jobs elsewhere.

But at the publication of the company's annual report yesterday, viewers and listeners wanted to know why, despite the bonuses, the audience share for the flagship channel, BBC1, had fallen.

Questioned on the paucity of sitcoms, Sir Christopher Bland blamed John Cleese who refused to write more than two series of Fawlty Towers. Now Caroline Aherne has decided not to write any more series of The Royle Family and Victoria Wood is not writing any more Dinnerladies.

Asked about the loss of Premier League football, Peter Salmon, head of sport, made the case that such sporting rights were so expensive there would be protests if the BBC spent huge sums of money to beat the commercial broadcasters.

The Guardian

The BBC admitted yesterday that it was failing to connect with mass audiences at key times of the year as competition for television ratings intensifies.

The corporation said it had been wrong not to screen the Queen Mother's 100th birthday pageant last year. The governors, whose annual report was published yesterday, confirmed that ratings last Christmas were disappointing.

Observers say that long-term decline and an increasing number of channels threaten the viability of the licence fee: the BBC must connect with the nation if a universal TV tax can be justified. Overall, the BBC1 share of audience fell by 1.6% in the past year.

Sir Christopher Bland, the outgoing chairman of the BBC governors, said that BBC1 was at times "wonderful", and "unwonderful" at others.

Despite the decline in ratings, a 91,000 bonus paid to the director general, Greg Dyke, was justified, he said.

At the launch of the report there was a stark warning that the government's ambitious plans for digital television will be derailed if Ondigital, the troubled terrestrial digital TV service, goes to the wall.

The Daily Mail

The BBC has admitted that it made "a mistake" in snubbing the Queen Mother's 100th birthday pageant last year.

In the BBC's annual report, unveiled yesterday, it said many licence-fee payers had been "disappointed" by the decision not to televise the event.

Director-general Greg Dyke's stand over the event provoked a storm of protest. The outcry was swelled by thousands of Daily Mail readers and BBC viewers.

"We now recognise this decision was a mistake," said the report.

And BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland conceded yesterday that the Daily Mail had been right to campaign for coverage of the pageant.

"We've come clean. Daily Mail 15, BBC love.

"We all make mistakes. We're not perfect, we called that one wrong," he said.

The Daily Star

BBC Director General Greg Dyke's first full year in charge has seen viewers switching off in droves.

Pressure from satellite TV with its rich array of sports events and latest films has seen the Beeb's share of audience figures drop by five per cent.

But despite these disappointments the BBC is now controlled by someone who recognises that there's only one way to win viewers - good programmes.

Dyke promises to increase spending on new and exciting shows by 450m in the next two years.

Let's hope this means more series in the mould of Only Fools and Horses, Porridge and Dr Who.

Otherwise, Greg Dyke will be remembered as the Weakest Link.

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