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01/07/2010

BBC Cuts Target Pay And Pensions

The BBC has announced plans to overhaul its staff pension scheme, cut top salaries and open up 'secret' celebrity pay deals for scrutiny.
So-called 'millionaire BBC celebrities' are to face having their salaries published to 'recapture public trust' in a major U-turn by the broadcaster.
The BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons is demanding the names of those earning the biggest incomes from the licence fee payer to be made public.
He also said Director General Mark Thompson and his executive board would forego a month's basic pay this year and in 2011, which represents a cut of £55,333 for Mr Thompson, while his deputy Mark Byford loses £39,250.
As UK-wide cuts bite for all the other sectors, BBC pay deals have been heavily criticised, including £18m to Jonathan Ross over three years and two-year deals for both Graham Norton and Anne Robinson worth more than £3m each.
The campaigners, Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) have been told by Sir Michael that he thinks the BBC should release the names of those who receive the biggest incomes from the BBC.
"The BBC should be clearer about who the highest paid individuals are, both on and off screen."
Speaking to a meeting of the VLV, he said: "We are challenging the director general to work urgently on a plan to deliver greater transparency about who is at the top end of the pay scale."
The BBC is also to close its lucrative pension scheme - which offers members payments based on their average earnings during their career.
In a move condemned by the broadcast union BECTU, new staff who join the BBC from December 1 are likely to be excluded from the costly deal but the BBC will keep the pension open to existing members.
It also wants to change the terms so that salary increases used in pension calculations would be capped at 1% a year, even if members received a higher pay rise.
The pension blow to staff follows a recent review of the scheme that discovered the deficit had ballooned from £470m in 2008 to about £2bn.
In late June, a top media conference was told that the BBC was cutting pay to senior managers to less than that by commercial rivals.
Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thompson said that the measures would be introduced for new executives being recruited as part of wider plans to make pay more transparent after the corporation announced a pay freeze for all staff earning more than £38,000.
By next year, she said existing senior managers would effectively have taken a real-terms pay cut of 14%.
She was speaking at a 'future of broadcasting' conference, titled 'Delivering the digital ideal: a future path for the broadcasting industry' on 28th-29th June at London's Waldorf Hilton, London.
See: BBC Boss To Cut Top Staff's Pay
See: BECTU Condemns BBC Pension Changes
(BMcC/GK)
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