BBC cuts bonuses in desperate bid to regain public confidence

By Stewart Payne

The BBC has cut the bonuses it pays to staff following the outcry over the £20 million it handed out a year ago.

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson is under pressure after the recent phone-in scandal
BBC Director-General Mark Thompson is under pressure after the recent phone-in scandal

However, figures show that the troubled corporation, struggling to regain the confidence of viewers and listeners in the wake of its phone-in scandal, still made awards totalling almost £12 million this year.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the both the number of bonuses and the size of the amounts is down.

The biggest bonus paid in 2006 was £100, 739. This year the largest award was £30,015. Eleven members of staff received amounts in excess of £20,000 and 2,560 were given payouts of between £1,000 and £10,000.

The average payout was £1,400, down from last year’s £1,800. Although a total of 8,353 staff received bonuses, an increased number of employees had no performance awards at all.

It is believed that many senior staff opted not to take bonuses following a series of scandals involving viewers unwittingly contributing to faked phone-in competitions.

Flagship programmes such as Blue Peter, Comic Relief and Children in Need deceived viewers. In addition the corporation had to apologise to the Queen after a trailer was edited to give the false impression she had stormed out of a photo-shoot.

The BBC is trying to win back confidence in its programme making and insiders believe that it has deliberately cut its bonuses package in order to avoid further controversy.

The BBC declined to reveal which members of staff, below executive board level, were in receipt of bonuses, stating that do so would be in breach of the Data Protection Act.

“Staff do not expect details of their remuneration and bonuses to be disclosed, and to do so would unfair,” a spokesman said. “The BBC operates a salary management policy which is designed to offer a competitive remuneration package and reward people on the basis of their personal performance,” the spokesman added.

“All staff are entitled to be considered for a bonus of up to 10 per cent of their annual salary for outstanding and exceptional performance.”