The BBC does have an amazing propensity for self-flagellation – as I have noted before.
Last night was a great example. I was interviewed for around ten minutes by Newsnight to reflect on the NAO’s damning report into severance payments at the BBC.
Hiring, firing and media recruitment at the BBC is always a hot topic. The Corporation has paid out an extraordinary-sounding £25m over three years to 150 senior executives for redundancies, compromise and other exit payments.
In the longer pre-recorded interview, the point I wanted to get across was that the BBC was, on the whole, a fairly responsible organisation. Certainly, its payoffs for George Entwistle and others pale in comparison with those to some media executives like Sly Bailey and Rebekah Brooks. £25m over three years represents less than 0.2% of the Corporation’s £5bn annual budget: pretty good going for a business undergoing a massive relocation and restructuring programme. (Bailey and Brooks between them would have accounted for half of that.)
My strong feeling is that the BBC is under such scrutiny because it is – with some justification – hugely resented by other media companies because of its guaranteed source of income. They see the Corporation as the privileged, over-fed progeny of successive governments: whereas, in truth, the mentality inside the Beeb is a little like that of an unwanted and bullied step-child.