Ian Burrell: Corporation is still refusing to confront reality of cuts

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The Independent Online

These cuts at the BBC have been rather like an Errol Flynn swashbuckler. We've been captivated by the danger of those apparently deadly blades, but in reality there's no real blood on the deck – just a shirt elegantly-ripped by those flashing sabres.

At the conclusion of its Strategy Review, the BBC Trust decided there wasn't, after all, a case for the closure of the digital radio station 6 Music, which was by far the most significant sacrifice being proposed by BBC management in response to criticisms that the corporation has grown too large.

Looking back now it's hard to see who thought it a good idea to axe a network that seems universally admired, even by its commercial rivals. Was it all an elaborate ploy, designed to rally us to the BBC's defence or to bring publicity to a station known only to a cognoscenti?

The only services lost are a couple of youth-oriented initiatives – BBC Switch and the creativity project Blast. BBC Asian Network will be reinvented across various parts of the corporation. And according to the annual report – published yesterday by an organisation apparently impelled by outside pressures to undergo an orgy of self-harm – the BBC's 15 most senior executives upped their pay last year from £4.6m to £4.76m, while total staff numbers grew from 17,078 to 17,238.

The real signs of cuts, we were told, are yet to come. After grave pre-election warnings over the scale of the BBC, Jeremy Hunt is the new Conservative Culture Secretary. Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, has promised Hunt greater transparency will be shown over BBC presenter pay, the source of many claims of profligate use of the licence fee. Yet these revelations will only refer to salary bands.

And yesterday Sir Michael felt sufficiently confident in his relations with the Tories to reiterate that the apparently imperilled Trust will be around for at least six more years. Bravo! Another neat parry from the BBC bosses.

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