Cuts will result in loss of 18% of management posts

LONDON — The BBC has unveiled plans to slash 25% from the salary bill of senior staff, resulting in the loss of 18% of management posts and a freeze on exec pay.

Some £20 million ($33.1 million) will be cut from the $131 million salary bill for its 634 senior managers and nine exec directors by July 31, 2013, according to a plan approved Thursday by the pubcaster’s regulatory body, the BBC Trust.

The BBC will eliminate 100 senior management posts, and the salaries of senior staff that remain will be frozen until August 2011. 

A freeze on the pay of exec directors announced in January will be extended for a further three years and bonuses will be suspended indefinitely.

New staff will be recruited “at a discount” compared with the pay they would receive in the commercial sector.

In February, the BBC Trust instructed the broadcaster’s management to draw up plans to reduce the pay for its senior execs and management in line with the reduced means of its rivals in the commercial sector, where advertising revenue is expected to fall by 12% this year.

BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons said Thursday, “It is right that as a major public service organization, the BBC shows leadership on this issue during difficult economic times.”

BBC director-general Mark Thompson added, “I and every other senior manager need to recognize that we are in a different economic climate, that the media sector labor markets are depressed and that there are significant pressures on public finances.”

The BBC may have been prompted to make cuts to combat criticism from the right-wing Conservative Party, which is likely to win power following national elections in May. However, if that was the aim, it has failed.

Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative Party spokesman on culture, said, “The BBC has missed an opportunity to prove it is in tune with the public mood over high salaries. Public anger was focused not just on the management itself but on the salaries paid to senior executives. The BBC needs to be careful that it doesn’t lose the public’s trust by being out of step on such an important issue.”

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