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

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
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

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam