A FRONT-PAGE headline in the Mail on Sunday claiming that highly paid BBC presenters including newsreaders Huw Edwards and Sophie Raworth and Today presenter Nick Robinson have received ‘shock’ redundancy letters fleetingly raised hopes that the Corporation – at last! – is being cut down to size.
But all is not what it seems. The letters have been sent to all high-level news division staff as a matter of routine personnel housekeeping and no one is being forced out. They can, if they like, opt for a redundancy payment of up to £150,000.
According to the MoS, a BBC spokesperson said: ‘This isn’t about any new job cuts – it’s a standard HR exercise relating to savings we’ve announced previously – and it’s not targeting any individuals; we have to send it to everyone who’s at the same grade. We’re looking for expressions of interest in redundancy, not offering it, and it’s not the case that any or everyone who came forward would be accepted.’
The story arguably has the fingerprints of the 225-strong, lavishly funded BBC PR machine all over it. One clue is that Sunday’s story appeared as Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer (the 12th incumbent of the post since 2012) signs off the finishing touches to the BBC Mid-term Charter Review, which was ordered by Nadine Dorries last May and is due to be published towards the end of next month. In the BBC’s bubble-world they still believe themselves to be a sacrosanct national treasure, and no doubt calculate that sob stories such as this will evoke sympathy and temper any reforms that might be in the pipeline.
The reality is that the eye-watering £3.8billion income from the licence fee allows the Corporation to pay Edwards a salary of £410,000 (mainly for reading an autocue). Raworth receives around £310,000 a year and Robinson £275,000.
Meanwhile, the news division remains one of the largest operations of its kind in the world with resources which outstrip most of its rivals. Increasingly, its main job, according to the latest BBC annual report (p20), is to root out ‘misinformation’ rather than simply reporting the news. This means, in reality, rubbishing anyone who is classed as ‘anti-vax’, opposed to Net Zero, or any aspect of the Corporation’s highly biased worldview.