BBC pay figures publication a step forward but not the end of the road - Campbell

19 July 2017

Commenting on the publication of salaries by the BBC today, East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said,

Gregory Campbell MP

DUP Spokesman on International Development and Cabinet Office

Gregory Campbell

“The BBC has now been forced, eventually, to publish some of the information about the highest paid earners in the Corporation. The BBC is an organisation which often demands the highest level of transparency from other organisations, but even after the ten-year campaign it has taken to get this far, we know some of the facts, but not all of them.

The details published today are the salaries paid for work directly as a BBC employee but the public still do not know how much of their money has gone to many of the same ‘stars’ or other individuals through independent production companies.

The BBC is paid for by the public, through a compulsory charge under threat of criminal prosecution, It is charged if you watch any broadcast television, regardless of whether that is on the BBC or not. If you don’t like the content on other media outlets you can switch off or cancel your subscription. Whilst you can switch the channel away from the BBC, you don’t have the option to cancel your television licence fee payment.

That is what makes it different to other media outlets, and it is one of the reasons that comparisons between the pay of BBC employees in some fields and their counterparts elsewhere are not the full story. For an actor in a BBC soap opera there will be an equivalent programme on a commercial outlet. On occasions there is no commercial equivalent to many BBC programmes, and therefore no commercial equivalent to the ‘stars’ of those shows.

A similar programme on a commercial outlet may also look the same, but does the presenter on that commercial show have the same backroom team as the BBC? Do they have the same resources available to them? How many producers, editors, researchers and other backroom staff are working on the commercial “equivalent” of any BBC show? The answer in nearly every case is that a presenter on any other broadcast outlet has far fewer resources available than their BBC counterpart. 

The timing of today’s announcement is also open to question. The BBC does indeed produce its annual report every year in mid-July, but it would seem that this year it was left as late as possible. We are now deep into what’s know as the “silly season” for news and conveniently Parliament is just about to go into summer recess. If it was another organisation some BBC presenters might just say that is a bit too convenient.

Ultimately, today’s publication is a step forward for the BBC, but it is by no means the end of the road. When we know the full details of how much public money is going to its highest paid stars we will be much closer to that goal.”

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