BBC ANNUAL REPORT REVEALS FALL IN AUDIENCES AND REVENUE:  Daniel Martin (Mail 16/9), said that figures in the BBC’s annual report showed that the number of people paying the BBC licence fee had fallen by 237,000 to 25.9 million  over the previous year, with overall licence fee revenue – which was also hit by a fall in government contributions towards free licence fees for the over-75s – down £170 million to £3.5 billion. Mr Martin also reported that young people aged 16 – 34 now watched only seven and a half hours of BBC programming per week, only slightly more than You Tube. Across all ages, the audience reach of BBC1 had fallen from 68 per cent of adults per week to 65.4 per cent, with BBC2 also declining from 42.9 per cent to 41.9 per cent.  Radio audiences had also dropped – Radio 1 from 17 to 16.6 per cent each week and Radio 2 from 27.2 per cent to 26 per cent, though Radio 4, at 19.3 per cent had been stable.

Ellie Cambridge (Sun 15/9) reported that the BBC had disclosed that ex-England football captain Gary Lineker, who was now the main football presenter and had been the highest-earning on screen star with a contract worth £1.7m, had taken a pay cut of £400,000 a year, meaning that Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball – paid £1.36 million – was now the corporation’s highest earner.

Kathy Gyngell (Conservative Woman 15/9), under the heading ‘How dare they? BBC robs the poor to feed millions to its fat-cat presenters’, said the BBC annual report contained its very own Rich List of its on-air and front-of-house staff paid more than £150,000 per annum, ‘all compulsorily paid for by you and me, including millions of over -75s’.  She noted that Gary Lineker – who had agreed a pay reduction but was still on £1.3m-a-year – had posted a tweet afterwards ‘that shows his contempt for the little people who pay his salary’ and said, Oh dear, thoughts are with the haters at this difficult time’. Mrs Gyngell commented:

‘. . . find me one iota of justification for the inflated salaries for these so-called celebrities who even the kindest would have to admit are no Terry Wogans, Two Ronnies or Bruce Forsyths, the real entertainers of decades past. The over-rewarded and mainly indifferent editors, reporters and presenters who make up the rest of the list are the reason I have had BBC TV and radio switched off in my home for a long time. Lockdown was bad enough without being driven mad on a daily basis by the BBC’s entitled ones – their propaganda, inanities, bad grammar and substandard reporting.  If I never hear the harassing Nick Robinson (£299,999 per annum) or the maddeningly smug and patronising tones of Mishal Husain (£269,999) ever again, I will be happy. As for the egregious and self- opinionated Emily Maitlis on £374,999, well, words fail me.’

The full report is posted on the News-watch website.

Stephen Glover (Mail 15/9) argued that the person made happiest by the revelation of the BBC pay figures was likely to be the prime minister’s  main advisor, Dominic Cummings,  who wanted ‘to hack back the Corporation and ideally eviscerate it’, with the ultimate aim of abolishing the mandatory licence fee, with non-payment decriminalised in the meantime.  Mr Glover argued that the British people – two-thirds of whom, according to an opinion poll, wanted the licence fee scrapped, with more than half thinking the corporation was politically correct – were inexorably losing their affection for it.   He stated:

‘Yesterday’s publication of gigantic BBC salaries will be greeted by many as further evidence that it is increasingly out of touch with its audience, and has jettisoned the values of public service that once distinguished it. . . . In the last financial year, the total salary bill for ‘talent’ edged up £1million to £144.6million, while pay for the BBC’s executive committee rose from £4.95million to £5.41million despite endless undertakings that top management would tighten its belt.’

He concluded:

‘The Corporation goes on behaving exactly as its enemies would wish. And I’m afraid it will find it has fewer friends than it used to.

‘Can it be saved? New director general Tim Davie has got off to a good start by reversing the decision to ban the words of Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory at the Last Night Of The Proms. His attempt to crack down on opinionated BBC staff pontificating on social media is also welcome. Reforming this arrogant behemoth will nonetheless be an almighty task.

‘I hope Mr Davie succeeds because the best of the BBC is worth fighting for. But it won’t survive in anything like its present form if it continues to carry on regardless.’

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