Friday, May 2, 2014

Company man

Those with an interest BBC presenter deals are poring over this element of Jeremy Paxman's Newsnight resignation announcement - "This was a decision I reached - and informed the BBC of - last July. I shall work out the remainder of my contract and will not seek another."

Is it possible that Dame Margaret Hodge became the last straw for Paxo ?  It was Ma Hodge who roasted BBC CFO Zarin Patel in July 2012, saying she had heard from one long-term presenter who had been employed by the BBC for more than 20 years, who said he had to go "off books into a service company" or face a "substantial pay cut".

"He was told he would not be employed unless he did that and when he asked for that to be put in writing that was refused to him," she said.

One Jeremy Paxman had, spookily, gone public with a very similar story in March 2012, saying, after 20 years presenting Newsnight, the "BBC required me to form a company if I wanted to continue....  They claimed they had been told to do so by HMRC.”  So, Out In The Dark Ltd was formed in May 2009.

Ma Hodge said paying presenters through personal service companies, when the BBC was their only employer, was "immoral". The BBC responded by promising an investigation, and, by November 2012, working with Deloitte, produced a report, reviewing 804 "talent" deals. Deloitte was then asked to work on a new test, to determine who should be on staff terms and conditions, which was finally unveiled in November last year, to be used in all new hirings and contract renewals.

So, with his contract up in June, it may well be that the test showed Jezzer should transfer back to staff, presumably on Band 11, but paid way above the roof, and look forward to appraisals, leave application forms, compulsory training, and all that...

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