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
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

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

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn