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
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat