Friday, July 07, 2006

Jacuzzi Of Bad Metaphors

Extra cream for sleek BBC moggies

"Executives at the BBC are washing themselves in a Jacuzzi of cash while staff suffer a drought."

So says some journo trade union leader finding out about the latest pay increase for senior BBC execs. And according to the BBC journos, that is the main story: why should the bosses get all this dosh when we're being given our P45s?

But sorry, that isn't the main story. Bosses in the private sector routinely get rewarded for shredding the unproductive bits of their workforce: one's even called Fred the Shred. That's just life.

No, what we telly tax payers think is the main story is that BBC execs should have been awarded any pay increase at a time when their customers are deserting in droves? And why have they had most of their bonuses consolidated into basic pay, which is clearly far preferable, being both more dependable and also pensionable?

According to their annual report, BBC TV's audience share- even with all those "great" new digital channels- has slumped by a further 1.3% to just 34.9%. Customers are voting with their zappers.

Grade defends the awards saying that although basic pay for BBC executives is now 4.5% above the market median, bonuses are lower. Quite why he thinks a commercial market comparison is relevant for a £3bn tax-funded entity is unclear: their output doesn't have a market test, so why should their wages? A comparison with Civil Service payscales would be much more appropriate.

"Executive pay policy now properly reflects our combined duty to licence fee payers and our responsibility as employers."

I don't think so.

PS Talking of pensions, BBC staff still have a final salary scheme that is generous even by public sector standards. The annual report reveals that Mark Byford and John Smith both have pensions worth- in capital "transfer value" terms- £2m plus. And Jenny Abramski's is worth a staggering £3.8m. Wonder if she's still eligible for Gordo's Pension Credit?

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