One suspects there might have been a little exasperation on this morning's BBC Executive conference call. Cheerful Charlie, aka Justin Webb, chose to muse on news presenter's pay in his Radio Times column (fee undisclosed), when one might have hoped things were calming down.
“I understand the special concern about the BBC, since the salaries come straight from licence payers. That is – literally and metaphorically – a matter to be decided above my pay grade. But perhaps it’s more important that all news broadcasters – on commercial stations as well – should be paid in a manner that keeps them on the side of the people.” Is this really a helpful intervention ?
The trouble is that BBC news presenter salaries are decided, largely, by the BBC News Group Board, which has at least 11 of 12 members paid more than the Prime Minister. At least four other News managers, non-Board members, are paid more than the Prime Minister. And, since the BBC was backed into putting key presenters back on to staff, there are many hiding on Grade 10 and 11, with salaries way above the declared roof of those grades.
Mr Webb ought to be careful what he wishes for - Executive Pay is already "controlled" by discounts to the marketplace "of 50% to 80%", and measured against multiples of BBC Median Pay, which could easily be extended to those in front of the microphone. Many licence-fee payers would prefer that he was simply paid less than the Prime Minister.