I’ve been watching the BBC’s attempt to justify the mega salaries of its presenters, celebrities and management staff, scoring a massive PR own goal in the wake of refusing to pay the licence fees of the over 75s. This is despite the fact that this was part of the Corporation’s agreement to take on the cost when it renewed its charter and got the government’s okay on increasing the yearly cost to licence payers.
To say the BBC is out of touch simplifies the situation and it’s much more complicated. The bods who run it are committed to chasing the younger population, who rarely if ever watch BBC TV and would prefer Netflix, Sky and Amazon any day. While Radio One and Six Music have enough younger listeners, the people who pay the licence fee (parents and grandparents basically) remain its core viewers and listeners. The Majority, but apparently without a voice.
Are Claudia Winkleman, Vanessa Feltz and Zoe Ball really worth hundreds of thousands of ££ss of your money? Likewise the men on the top ten list. The argument is that if they went to commercial channels they could earn twice as much. Good luck to them I say, there’s a massive queue of women or men who can easily take your place at half the cost, if not less. Why doesn’t the BBC look for and nurture new on screen and radio talent? Very often the newbies are incompetent and inarticulate (cf Fearne Cotton on the river parade for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee) and Lauren Laverne’s takeover of Desert Island Discs instead of the redoubtable Kirsty Young. Age, marriage and motherhood have improved Cotton’s skills but we’ve all paid for her training on the job when she was the standard of a raw intern – and by payment I don’t mean in the lower end of five figures.
I was at the BBC for 12 years and by the time I left, after all of those years of frantic intense pressurised work, I was on a below average industry salary for someone of my expertise, experience and success rate. I moved into the commercial world of travel and got a massive pay rise, with no additional pressure to achieve results and not a layer of useless middle management. In my first year I got a £20,000 bonus when we reached our yearly sales target, acknowledging how my publicity had raised the profile of the company and helped them to achieve their big goal.
I think I’ve learnt more about my market value since I started my own business. I know that my clients get great value for money and I consistently over deliver on results for all of them. Sometimes I wish I had an ambitious agent who would negotiate higher fees, they’d certainly be worth 15 or 20%. The recruitment agency through whom I got the travel job offered a decent salary when the company wanted to make me permanent but I got myself an extra £10,000 and bonus, ‘because I’m worth it!’.
What do I consider the Market Value of the BBC? I think Radio 4 is worth my licence fee alone and I thoroughly enjoy BBC Three Counties Radio but is that worth £150 a year? .