11 Jul 2013

BBC top ten severance payments: how many TV licence fees?

MPs are grilling BBC execs over a £25m severance pay bill, including £5.3m for its top ten managers. How many of our TV licences were spent on the payouts? The whole of Weston-Super-Mare for starters.

The report into BBC payouts was published last month, but the BBC is still feeling the heat as MPs delve further into the detail.

The Public Accounts Committee did not hold back on Wednesday when they interviewed BBC director general Tony Hall and BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten, among others.

The payment that caused the most outrage was the highest payment of £949,000 given to former deputy director Mark Byford. But overall, the National Audit Office report found that severance pay to the top ten BBC managers amounted to £5,298,900.

With TV licences costing £145.50 each, it would have taken the purchase of 36,472 to make up the payouts to these ten senior managers.

Among the British population who have televisions, there is about one license for every 2.3 people.

And by Channel 4 News reckoning, that amounts to the total spent by all of Weston-Super-Mare’s 80,000-strong population on their BBC fee.

As for the whole £25m sum, that would take the licence fees paid by Stoke-on-Trent’s nearly 400,000 people.

No wonder MPs had something to say about it all.

Former BBC director-general Mark Thompson is next in the line of fire, after it was suggested that he approved a controversial £375,000 payout to former BBC2 controller Roly Keating, who later returned the money after realising it wasn’t authorised.

For their part, Mr Hall and Mr Patten have already announced a £150,000 cap on future severance payments to senior managers.

But it may be some time before they are allowed to move on from previous payouts.