BBC SENIOR MANAGEMENT ‘FACES CULL’: Anita Singh (£ Telegraph 15/9) said that in revealing the contents of the BBC annual report (on 15/9), new director general Tim Davie would – according to a ‘source’ – say that he was planning to remove unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, including a cull of its 100 most senior executives earning more than £150,000 a year. Ms Singh claimed the annual report would include the results of a management survey conducted by Deloitte into corporation finances which showed that 95 per cent of controllable spend went on the content and delivery of programmes, with the remainder on support services. She added that the planned reduction in jobs applied only to the public service arm of the BBC but not to its commercial business, BBC Studios, which was still hiring staff. Ms Singh said that under Lord Hall, Mr Davie’s predecessor, promises were made to reduce headcounts, but in 2018-19, there were an additional 1,021 appointments to public service roles, taking the total to 19,231. She reported that Mr Davie was expected to praise the performance of iPlayer, which had enjoyed 4.8 billion streaming requests in 2019-20. She added that Mr Davie had made no mention of the BBC’s decision to end free television licences for over-75s from August in his first speech to staff, but Silver Voices, a group representing pensioners, had now requested an urgent meeting with him, and Mr Davie had agreed to schedule a date.
Daniel Martin (Mail 15/9) claimed that the publication of the BBC annual report would led to a backlash from pensioners because it revealed that payment for its stars rose by more than £1m to £144.7m in the past year, and that 76 presenters earned more than the prime minister’s salary of £150,000 a year. He added that the figures also revealed that the corporation had given pay rises to more than 700 female employees since a row over gender pay parity in July 2017. Mr Martin reported that Dennis Reed of the pensioners’ group Silver Voices had demanded that payment to stars should be slashed if the BBC expected over-75s to pay for their licences. He added that the annual figures showed that two stars were being paid more than £1 million and 73 received between £150,000 and £500,000, representing 10 per cent of total internal creative content spend, a figure unchanged from the previous year. He said the BBC had declined to comment.
MAITLIS ‘ATTACKS GOVERNMENT AGAIN’: Craig Byers (Is the BBC Biased? 15/9) noted that, on BBC2 Newsnight, Emily Maitlis, interviewing Lord Lilley and Sir Roger Gale about the passage of the government’s internal market bill, interrupted Lord Lilley, a supporter of the bill 10 times and Sir Roger, who voted against the government, zero times. Mr Byers also noted that Lord Lilley had received the ‘laugh in the voice’ treatment from Ms Maitlis and was told by her that one of his key arguments was ‘quite specious’. Dylan Donnelly (Express 15/9) also noted that Ms Maitlis had called Lord Lilley’s defence of the bill ‘specious’ and that, in response, many viewers had said on social media that she had not been impartial in her questioning.
BBC ‘SHOOTS ITSELF IN FOOT’ OVER SPORT QUIZ CULL: Jim White (£ Telegraph 15/9) argued that in deciding to cull former tennis star Sue Barker, along with team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell from the corporation’s long running BBC1 quiz A Question of Sport, in pursuit of ‘diversity’, BBC bosses had shot themselves in the foot. Noting that they might be replaced with figures from ethnic backgrounds, he said that – though it was commendable if the BBC reflected society as a whole – all three of the current roster of presenters were over 60 – another desirable component of ‘diversity’ which was seemingly being ignored.
‘The idea that there are millions of youthful hipsters who will be drawn to the show if you make the regulars a bit younger and more diverse is absolutely fanciful. This is not going to become a must-see appointment in the artisan coffee roasteries of Hackney because Jermaine Jenas and Alex Scott are unveiled as the new team captains (excellent broadcasters though both of them are).
‘It is a bit like suggesting Fleetwood Mac would appeal more to today’s teenagers if they recruited a twentysomething singer. This is a show with a very specific demographic: the very reason people like Question of Sport is that it has been around forever doing the same things it has always done with the same cast. Or to extend the Mac analogy, that it has long gone its own way. The truth is that removing Barker and the boys from the mix will simply alienate the existing audience while wholly failing to bring in a new one.’
COLSTON STATUE BIAS: Jack Montgomery (Breitbart Europe 15/9) said that the BBC was facing further accusations of political bias after claiming in a news report that the statue of Bristol trader and philanthropist Edward Colston had been ‘symbolically lowered’ in June into Bristol harbour by Black Lives Matter ‘campaigners’. Mr Montgomery said that the Save Our Statues campaign had countered on social media that the reality was that ‘a violent, lawless mob’ had been involved, with Darren Grimes, a Brexit campaigner adding that the statue had been ‘dragged down by a mob in an illegal act of criminal damage whilst police turned a blind eye’.