Patten pledges to cut BBC’s ‘sky high’ pay and perks
First reaction: Promise to end ‘toxic’ issue of overpaid managers gets new chairman a warm welcome
A big cut in the number of overpaid top brass and a promise to reduce executive bonuses and other perks were high on the agenda when the new chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord (Chris) Patten, used his inaugural speech yesterday to set out his vision for a reformed Beeb.
Patten, a former cabinet minister in Margaret Thatcher's government and now chancellor of Oxford University, wants an end to the "toxic" issue of overpaid managers at the BBC.
He pledged to reduce the number of senior managers by two-thirds before 2015, and to cap executive pay at its current multiple of median salary (nine times the corporation's £39,668 average). Bonuses and perks such as free health care for senior staff will be radically reduced or cut altogether.
Patten told the Royal Television Society that "the public service BBC needs to distance itself... from the market" and remain sensitive to "the care we take in spending the licence fee".
About time too. The Daily Telegraph said Patten "wanted the BBC to be the first organisation to implement proposals from the recent Hutton Review into public sector pay, including publishing the ratio of the salaries of rank-and-file staff to those enjoyed by executives".
The Guardian said that tackling senior salaries is "likely to prove popular with BBC rank-and-file staff who feel the issue of top salaries has polluted perception of the corporation".
Metropolitan prejudices. The Daily Mail's reading of the speech was rather different. The paper felt Patten was "standing up for the silent majority" when he said the corporation was "drowning" viewers with stereotypes and that it should avoid pandering to "metropolitan prejudices".
The Mail concluded: "His comments will be seen as an attempt to address the long-standing claim that the BBC is guilty of a London-centric, Left-leaning bias which alienates large sections of the public."
Is it possible the Independent was reading a different script? It heard Patten defending the BBC's journalism "against accusations of bias". Indeed, Patten "singled out for praise the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen who had been criticised by the BBC Trust [for supposedly breaching impartiality rules] under his predecessor". ·
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