The BBC gets away with it

The BBC ‘s director general Mark Thompson must be joking.

“Defending the £6 million pay package to Ross and other stars, Mr Thompson said that “disclosure of this kind is likely to lead, not to better value for money” but “fresh upward pressure on pay”, saying that Graham Norton or Anne Robinson or others could not be described as “public decision-makers or public officers of the BBC”.

Still, this is one silly gamey statement in a pretty unapologetic defence of the BBC way of doing things. Now that bankers and politicians have taken so much heat, the BBC can afford to go late and go public with its top persons’ expenses. They don’t look so bad, after all. My impression is that few people care very much about the BBC’s occasional extravagances, with so much else going on. Contrary to what the Times insinuates, we know full well that the cost of “talent” will reduce by between 25% and 40%. Will those ridiculous top salaries for executives follow? That’s the one to watch. Slightly unreasonably, Mike White in the Guardian sees the black hand of Murdoch behind the Times’ criticism. (His own paper is just as critical). Murdoch has to face his own pressures. In a bid to increase competition, the regulator Ofcom is trying to force the Murdoch-controlled Sky to share its premium movie and sports channels with others. What others, since the collapse of Setanta? I always thought it rough that people had to pay two subscriptions to watch some football. Top soccer is one slice of the media where the market rules, whatever the regulator may wish for.. The test of the market is whether another competitor can take on Sky.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London