Give staff who make hit shows a bonus round, says BBC boss

Makers of hit shows ‘need incentives’ to stay with corporation

Media Editor

The BBC’s director of television wants to give extra rewards to staff who make hit shows – over and above their Corporation salaries. Danny Cohen says he wants to look at “how we incentivise people” so that the BBC’s best creative minds do not abandon the organisation as soon as they enjoy success.

Mr Cohen’s comments come as the BBC, which is preparing its case for the renewal of its Royal Charter and licence fee funding, needs to show it can make shows which are not provided by the commercial television sector. There is a growing recognition that some of the BBC’s most popular and long-running programmes – including Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den – will eventually have to be replaced with a new generation of formats.

“I think the idea that if you come up with a global hit, you should in some way benefit from that beyond your basic wage, doesn’t seem unreasonable,” Mr Cohen said in a new book called Is the BBC in Crisis? “I think if we want to bring in really smart people and generate [intellectual property] – which will end up making money that will go back into the licence fee – people participating in that, in order to get the best people, then we have to look at and examine what’s possible.”

Mr Cohen’s comments – made to the journalist Tara Conlan for an essay in the book, published on Saturday – are controversial in that they come at a time when the Director-General, Tony Hall, is attempting to implement £700m of savings as a result of the freezing of the licence fee in 2010. Lord Hall is due to make a speech tomorrow at the Oxford Media Convention in which he will defend the licence fee model.

But Mr Cohen has a duty to improve the creativity of the BBC’s in-house production teams and has set up a new central development unit. “I think we need to keep looking at how we incentivise people, and how we use Worldwide [the BBC’s commercial arm].

“We have to make some of our own heroes: you get young people who come in who have good ideas and they are very proud to work at the BBC,” he told Ms Conlan. “A great idea can come from someone in their early twenties. We’ve got to take some bets on new people and we’ve got to work on incentivisation.”

Rising star: Danny Cohen’s career

Tipped as a future Director-General of the BBC, Cohen made his name championing shows such as Skins and The Inbetweeners at Channel 4, where he was head of the youth-orientated E4 channel. He moved to the BBC to become controller of BBC3.

Under Cohen’s stewardship BBC3 grew its audience, partly thanks to the success of signature programme Russell Howard’s Good News, which was an early hit on the BBC iPlayer.

In October 2010 he was promoted to Controller of BBC1 and, during two and a half years in charge, strengthened its position as Britain’s most-watched channel.

His commissions included the criticallyacclaimed dramas Call The Midwife and The Village. To compete with ITV’s big Saturday night schedule he bought the talent show The Voice.

Cohen was promoted again in April 2013 when he became director of television under new Director-General Lord Hall. His £320,000 role puts him in charge of all channels, iPlayer and BBC Films.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'