Leading article: Channel hop

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sir Michael Lyons, the chairman of the BBC Trust, is good at changing his mind. For a long time, he argued that it was wrong to make public the salaries of the Corporation's top presenters and stars as this was commercially sensitive information. But on Wednesday he delivered a speech to a Voice of the Listener and Viewer seminar in which the chairman announced that he wanted "greater transparency about what the BBC pays its top on-air talent".

And what has prompted this change of mind? Apparently it was listening to licence-fee payers. This raises the question of to whom Sir Michael (who is supposed to represent the interests of licence-fee payers) was listening when he opposed the release of this information?

This would be puzzling enough, but Sir Michael then seemed to change his mind again later in the same speech, when he said: "This does not affect most of those people who are on our screens day in day out... It is not even a question of divulging, we believe, individual salaries". So Sir Michael has made up his mind. The details of the salaries of the BBC's top stars and presenters will be made public – except that it will be impossible to work out who is paid what. Welcome to a wonderful new era of BBC transparency.