East Derry MP and MLA Gregory Campbell has long campaigned for full transparency on BBC salaries. He says presenters should be as open about their pay as politicians are because both are paid from the public purse.
Last week he challenged Radio Ulster’s Stephen Nolan to disclose his pay. “The BBC were [sic] quite content to have their presenters question those of us who are also paid for by the public purse,” he said.
“But as they questioned public representatives about our pay, conditions and other overheads they refused to tell us what theirs were,” said the DUP man. That’s fair enough, as far as it goes, but bear with me and I’ll develop the point a little further.
Gregory raised the matter again last week after the chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, said he would release salary details of employees earning over £150,000 a year.
It was reported that the corporation employs 110 executives who earn more than the Prime Minister’s salary of £142,500 and 38 executives who earn more than £200,000. These figures exclude “talent” such as entertainers.
Lord Patten believes BBC executives are paid far too much and it has become a “toxic” issue. He thinks top-earners should have their salaries capped at 20 times that of their lowest earners.
Currently the BBC’s director-general, Mark Thompson earns 48 times the pay of his lowest earners. His salary is around £800,000 a year and reports have suggested that he could see it cut by almost £400,000.
Ouch! That would be a painful drop. But isn’t there a way to avoid the pain? Instead of taking pay cuts couldn’t the top earners do what some of our politicians do and go for a spot of double or triple-jobbing.
Then they could trouser the salary from their highest paid job and do their lower-paid jobs for free.
That way the public would save, just as Mr Campbell tells us we do because he and other politicians do their second jobs without pay. Just think of it as a two for the price of one or a three for two offer.
Taxpayers and licence fee payers should get special offers just like supermarket shoppers. BBC chiefs would only have to manage their time better and work a little harder. Perhaps our double jobbing MPs and MLAs could even give them a few tips on time-management techniques.
In reality this would mean job loses, as the organisation would employ fewer executives, but if it’s good enough for public representatives shouldn’t it also be good enough for the BBC?
We’re lucky enough to have top talent working in the corporation but wouldn’t we be doubly lucky if we could get extra value from them, just like Mr Campbell tells us we do from our double jobbing politicians?