BBC chiefs cash in after year of turmoil

Senior executives at the BBC have been given pay rises of more than £100,000 each after a year in which the corporation was dogged by phone-in scandals, job cuts, and revelations about editorial "fakery".

The director general, Mark Thompson, and nine other corporation bosses earned £4.96m in 2007-08, a rise of 17 per cent on the previous year. Most BBC employees received pay increases of 4 per cent over the same period, broadly in line with inflation. Mr Thompson's salary rose from £788,000 last year to £816,000, while that of Mark Byford, his deputy, rose from £437,000 to £513,000.

The corporation's annual report also revealed that for the fourth successive year Mr Thompson waived a bonus of £60,000, close to the maximum awarded by the corporation.

Jana Bennett, the director of BBC Vision, saw her salary rise by £103,000, to £536,000. She was criticised for her role in the "Crowngate" affair, after a trailer for a documentary wrongly suggested that the Queen had stormed out of a photoshoot at Buckingham Palace. An independent report into "Crowngate" criticised Ms Bennett for "showing a lack of curiosity" after being told of the blunder.

Her bonus was reduced by several thousand pounds to reflect the damage caused by the phone-in scandals involving Comic Relief, Children In Need and Saturday Kitchen. Mr Thompson said that Ms Bennett's bonus, which was reduced to £23,000, represented "a significant discount to reflect what had happened".

Jenny Abramsky, the outgoing director of audio and radio, who is leaving the BBC with a pension of £4m – thought to be a record for the British public sector – was paid £419,000, a 27 per cent increase from £329,000. Her bonus was £19,000.

Ashley Highfield, who has since left his post as future media executive director, saw his overall pay rise by £107,000 to £466,000. This came after the corporation went £36m over budget on its website.

The director general said "it didn't feel right" to take his bonus because of the "scale of disruption and uncertainty" across the BBC – a reference to widespread job cuts. In October, Mr Thompson announced that the BBC would lose up to 1,800 jobs, after receiving a smaller than expected licence fee settlement from the Government. That figure has since risen to 2,500.

He defended the salary hikes as necessary if the BBC was to remain competitive with commercial broadcasters, claiming the represented a "tiny fraction" of what executives earned at Channel 4 or ITV.

In November 2006, Michael Grade defected to ITV for a salary thought to be five times bigger than he was earning as BBC chairman.

"BBC executive benefits are set at a much lower level than most of our equivalents," Mr Thompson said yesterday. "When you actually get out into external world, some potential candidates almost roll on the floor laughing when you talk about potential levels of pay."

Mr Thompson added that feedback from the public suggested that trust in the BBC had fully recovered since the phone-in scandals.

Last year the BBC temporarily suspended all its phone-ins after faked contests were exposed. The corporation was separately fined £50,000 for a faked competition winner on Blue Peter, which forced the show's presenter, Konnie Huq, to issue an embarrassing apology live on air. Executives were also punished after the results of a poll to determine the name of the show's cat were changed by producers.

Mr Thompson described the past 12 months as, "a year when we encountered some problems but also a year of considerable achievement".

Troubled times for bosses

Jana Bennett Director, BBC Vision

Salary – £536,000 (up from £433,000)

Responsible for programmes that were engulfed by phone-in scandals. These included Children in Need, Sport Relief, and Blue Peter. Criticised for "lack of curiosity" over "Crowngate" affair.

Ashley Highfield Executive Director, Future Media

£466,000 (£359,000)

Overspent budget for bbc.co.uk by £36m, but tripled the number of British adults who use thewebsite. Has taken credit for the introduction of BBCi interactive TV and the iPlayer internet viewer.

Jenny Abramsky Director, BBC Audio

£419,000 (£329,000)

The Liz Kershaw Show, The Russell Brand Show, and The Jo Whiley Show breached standards on competitions. Ric Blaxhill, head of BBC Radio 6, was forced to resign after two shows featured fictitious competition winners.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'