Lord Patten to leave after true scale of ‘dark days’ laid bare as BBC admits pay for top bosses soared by 60 per cent

Chairman of Trust to stand down in 2015 after ‘chaotic’ year of vast redundancy payouts and failure of £100m digital project

Media Editor

At the end of a year which the BBC admitted had been characterised by its “chaotic handling” of “some of the darkest days in our recent history,” the organisation revealed that it had actually increased its expenditure on senior staff by 60 per cent.

The embarrassing admission was the largely result of vast payouts made to departing BBC executives, leaving the new Director-General, Tony Hall, with a difficult presentational task at the launch of his first annual report.

As he also expressed regret over the waste of £100m on the bungled Digital Media Initiative (DMI), Lord Hall said: “From redundancy payments through to the failed DMI project, the BBC has not always been the steward of public money that it should have been.”

The amount spent on senior staff rose to £4.13m from £2.56m the previous year. Much of the costs were incurred in settlement packages for retiring executives including the former Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thomson who, according to notes in the annual report, received a tax-free cash lump sum of £251,770 in addition to the £683,000 she received as “compensation for loss of office” when she stepped down in September 2012.

Ms Thomson’s large pay-off was widely seen as being related to her being narrowly passed over for the Director- General’s role in favour of George Entwistle, who resigned 54 days later, following the Savile and Lord McAlpine scandals. He left with £470,000 compensation and a £1m pension pot. The BBC said that when “one-off” payments to departing executives were stripped out, the cost of senior staff had fallen by 8 per cent from the previous year.

Lord Hall was not at the BBC during the Savile crisis but Lord Patten was. In his foreword to the annual report, the chairman of the BBC Trust said the broadcaster had “seriously let down both itself and licence fee payers” by its “chaotic handling” of the Savile scandal and the “unforgivably poor journalism” by the BBC2 Newsnight programme during what he described as “some of the darkest days in our recent history”.

But also citing the excellence of the BBC’s Olympics coverage last summer, he used the opening words of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – to describe one of the most turbulent years the BBC has seen. Asked at a press conference if he had considered resigning, the peer said he would continue until the end of his four-year term and then stand down.

“I was appointed for four years and I think it would be pretty wretched of me, in any of those rows or difficulties, to have stepped down halfway through unless I’m told by my colleagues here that I have got it wrong and I think I owe it to the organisation and to them to see this through.”

The annual report identifies many areas in which the BBC is facing significant challenges, including concerns over the lack of public interest in current affairs output. “We are concerned about the gradual decline in audience numbers for current affairs programmes on television in recent years and about the degree of ambition and quality of current affairs programming.”

The report showed that the BBC website still has not fully recovered from falling public appreciation levels after significant changes were introduced to its format.

The broadcaster has made inroads in reducing expenditure on star presenters since the days when the salaries of big names such as Jonathan Ross prompted claims that it was being irresponsible with licence fee money.

The report revealed that spending on “top talent” has fallen by £4.2m in the last year to £12.3m, which represents 6 per cent of the broadcaster’s expenditure on all talent.

The cost of the BBC’s flawed purchase of the Lonely Planet franchise was also revealed. The travel guide business was sold by the BBC for £51.5m in March this year, representing an £80m loss on the BBC’s original 2007 purchase.

The BBC Trust found that “the original purchase and subsequent management of the business merit further scrutiny”, and it has told the executive to conduct a “review of lessons learnt” and report back.

BBC to launch five new HD channels

The BBC is to launch five further high definition channels to  accompany its digital stations next year. The opportunity arises following digital switchover, which has freed up airwaves for further provision of HD.

The services will bring higher quality pictures for BBC News, BBC3, BBC4, Cbeebies and CBBC, adding about 250 hours of HD shows each week.

The announcement comes as Ofcom today said it would use spare capacity to create 10 HD channels for digital terrestrial viewers who used Freeview. Most of the HD programmes from the new channels will also be available on the BBC’s on-demand iPlayer service.

The BBC said more than half of UK homes were able to receive HD pictures, and this was expected to rise to 80 per cent by 2016.

In addition to the five new services, the corporation hopes to launch regional variations of BBC1 in HD for England and BBC2 versions for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices