Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 17:53 UK

BBC defends executive pay rises

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson defended his executives' salaries

The BBC has defended pay rises of up to 107,000 each for executive directors saying it must offer competitive salaries for top jobs.

Director general Mark Thompson said the levels of BBC salary, benefits and bonuses were "in many cases, a tiny patch on what other broadcasters pay".

The figures were revealed in the corporation's annual report.

The BBC also said it had succeeded in rebuilding trust after a series of phone-in scandals last year.

A series of audience feedback surveys stated that public trust in the BBC had "fully recovered" by the year's end.

'Major restructuring'

Mr Thompson - who waived his own right to a bonus because of the "scale of disruption and uncertainty" across the BBC - said pay for executive directors was "benchmarked" against private companies.

BBC (Mark Thompson)
816,000 (2007/08)
ITV (Michael Grade)
1,780,000 (2006/07)
Channel 4 (Andy Duncan) 1,200,000 (2006/07)
Network Rail (Ian Croucher) 1,244,000 (2007/08)
Royal Mail (Adam Crozier) 843,000 (2007/08)
All figures include bonus payments where applicable. Andy Duncan's figure includes 450,000 from a long-term incentive plan. Michael Grade is executive chairman of ITV.

The pay of senior staff in public sector outfits including Royal Mail and Network Rail were also taken into account, he added.

Ashley Highfield, who has since left his post as future media executive director, saw his overall pay package rise by 107,000 to 466,000.

The sum includes a bonus, a pension supplement, expenses and benefits.

Mr Thompson said that, after "a major restructuring", a number of executive directors also had greater responsibilities which had been reflected in their pay.

"When you actually get out into the external world, some potential candidates almost roll on the floor laughing when you talk about potential levels of pay," he added.

Broadcasting workers' union Bectu said the defence of salary increases on the basis of additional responsibilities "doesn't wash with us".

Television - 2,355m
Radio - 598m
Online services - 182m
Licence fee collection and other admin costs - 351m
Digital switchover - 27m
Source: BBC annual report

"Because of the thousands of job losses that have happened most of our members have taken on additional responsibilities - therefore we do not believe the hikes in executive salaries are justified," general secretary Gerry Morrissey told the BBC News website.

In October, the BBC announced it was axing up to 1,800 jobs, prompted by a smaller than expected licence fee settlement from the government.

"Nobody in the executive board leading the BBC should be taking higher salary increases than the across-the-board increases that have been given to staff, who are only getting 2% this August," Mr Morrissey added.

Paul McLaughlin, national broadcasting organiser of the National Union of Journalists, criticised a "two-tier policy on pay".

"I don't think the BBC needs to act competitively to attract talent - people want to work for the BBC whether it pays huge bonuses or not," he added.


Mark Thompson and Michael Lyons questioned about BBC executive pay

Faked phone-ins

BBC Vision director Jana Bennett saw her total pay package increase by more than 103,000 to 536,000. But Mr Thompson said her bonus had been reduced to 23,000 because of fakery scandals surrounding some TV shows.

The BBC's clear demonstration of righting wrongs does not appear to have gone unnoticed
Michael Lyons
BBC Trust chairman

In July 2007, the BBC suspended all competitions after an inquiry unearthed a fresh batch of faked phone-ins on six shows including Comic Relief. That followed early problems with phone-ins on Saturday Kitchen and Blue Peter.

In the same month, a documentary trailer that used footage out of sequence to falsely portray the Queen walking out of a photo session "in a huff" was shown to journalists.

At the start of 2007, licence fee payers questioned in a survey gave a mean score of 5.87 out of 10 for how much they agreed with the statement "I trust the BBC", the report said.

This began to drop after July 2007 and had fallen to 5.49 by October but, by May 2008 had returned to 5.89.

The BBC received over 1.1m contacts from the public
It dealt with 124,000 complaints
EastEnders attracted the most complaints of any programme - 5,500
850 network radio and TV shows were recorded with a live audience
Source: BBC annual report
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BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons said: "The BBC's commitment to put its own house in order is clear and the action taken has strengthened the editorial framework and processes.

"Indeed, the BBC's clear demonstration of righting wrongs does not appear to have gone unnoticed."

These measures included staff training and tighter editorial controls.

Director general Mr Thompson, meanwhile, also hailed the "phenomenally successful iPlayer", the BBC's online video service.

The service, which launched in December, reached an average of 1.1 million users per week by the end of March.

And he praised high definition channel BBC HD, which also launched in December.

Mr Thompson also hailed an increase in the "monthly reach" - the amount of people who use BBC services in the UK each month - of 0.6% to 95%, after a period of decline.

Do BBC bosses deserve top dollar?
08 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
At a glance: BBC annual report 2007/8
08 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
BBC boss answers your questions
07 Jul 08 |  Have Your Say


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