Stephen Glover: Austerity? Not if you work for the BBC

Three days after the toughest Budget in memory, the BBC revealed that 117 of its executives are paid more than the Prime Minister's £142,500 salary. This figure excludes the £229m a year the Corporation pays to its highest paid stars, whose remuneration it refuses to disclose. In one publicly funded organisation there are probably several hundred people paid more than David Cameron.

During his Budget speech, George Osborne indicated that, apart from the NHS and international development, government departments would suffer swingeing cuts to their budgets of around 25 per cent. By contrast, the BBC can look forward to a couple of years of modest growth. On 22 May Ed Vaizey, the Tory minister for media and the arts, suggested that the coalition Government intended to shelve Tory plans to freeze the licence fee, and was no longer minded to make the Corporation tell us what it pays its stars.

In other words, while a meat cleaver is taken to the rest of the public service, and overpaid civil servants are named and shamed, the BBC is spared, and sails on regardless. Last week it emerged that the broadcaster's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, will pay bonuses to staff this year despite the public sector pay freeze. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it continues to throw money around as it did in the heady days of the boom.

The Corporation dispatched some 400 staff to cover last week's three-day Glastonbury festival, about the same as in 2009. A mere 292 people have been sent to the World Cup in South Africa, many more than by ITV, which admittedly has not distinguished itself. The BBC has spent £1m constructing a special studio in Cape Town where managers and ex-players burble on endlessly against a backdrop of Table Mountain in return for undisclosed, but no doubt considerable, fees.

At this point in the argument the BBC's cheerleaders customarily say that the broadcaster does an excellent job for what costs the licence payer less than 50p a day, and we should leave it alone. But one could defend on similar grounds other areas of government expenditure that are being subjected to cutbacks. Since the BBC is funded by what amounts to a mandatory tax, it is difficult to see why it should enjoy exemption. Besides, 50p is a significant sum to the poor, many of whom are about to become poorer.

Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, paid more than £800,000 a year of licence payers' money, would say there have been economies. There have been a few, with some low-paid staff being made redundant, and others soon to be shunted off to Salford. But the bun-fight goes on for the more fortunate. Seemingly indulged by the Con-Lib coalition (to which, we should note, it has extended generally sympathetic coverage) the BBC miraculously – and unfairly – escapes the austerity measures about to be experienced by the rest of the public sector.



All aboard for Murdoch's party



A brilliant story appeared last Monday in Richard Kay's Daily Mail column. (I should mention I write a column for the Mail, and know Mr Kay well.) The piece concerned a party thrown by the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of his son James, who runs the Murdoch empire in Britain and Europe, and it was accompanied by revealing telephoto lens photographs.

And, my, what a party! According to the Kay column, "a boat ferried guests from the Villa d'Este hotel on the edge of Lake Como – named by Forbes magazine as the finest hotel in the world – to a beautiful palazzo for dinner". The guest list included some people you might like to meet, and others you might not. Apart from the 79-year-old media mogul and his third wife, Wendi, there was James, his sister, Elisabeth, and her husband, Matthew Freud, invariably described as a "PR guru". Also present were the supermodel Claudia Schiffer, Kirsty Young of Desert Island Discs, and the hotel magnate Sol Kerzner. Frances Osborne, wife of the Chancellor, was also at this fantastic bash – perhaps ill-advisedly, suggested the Mail, only a few days before George Osborne's austerity Budget.

Here was our media aristocracy caught at play. One can be sure that the Murdochs, who have made a fortune out of prying into other people's lives, were not overjoyed to have their party publicised. On the principle that "dog does not eat dog" the Mail very seldom writes about Mr Murdoch's private goings-on. This time it could not resist.





Why the reticence over Morgan's past?



The showbiz figure and former editor of the Daily Mirror Piers Morgan finally married his long-time girlfriend, the journalist Celia Walden, last Thursday. The Sun devoted fewer than 50 words to the private ceremony at the bottom of page 13. The Mirror, by contrast, "splashed" with Morgan's wedding, and cleared page 11.

Yet there was something odd about its breathless coverage. The paper did not mention, even parenthetically, that Morgan had been its editor for nine eventful years. He was portrayed only as a television star. It was bit like describing Gary Lineker as the presenter of Match of the Day without adding that he was once England's striker.

Why didn't the Mirror claim a chunk of Morgan for itself? It is very perplexing. The paper can't have assumed its readers knew his identity as a former editor. Was it shy of reopening an old can of worms? After all, Morgan was involved in an insider dealing scandal, and forced to resign after publishing bogus photographs that purported to show British soldiers torturing Iraqis. I wish I could get inside the heads of executives who don't mention that Morgan was once editor of the paper that now celebrates him.

s.glover@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
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: Marketing Executive - Urgent Requirement - Central Manchester

£20000 - £23000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Guru Careers: Social Media Executive / SEO Executive

£20 - 25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Social Media...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence