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BBC bids goodbye to Mark Byford

Deputy director general exits corp

LONDON — One of the BBC’s longest serving and most highly remunerated toppers is ankling as the corp moves to show critics that it is serious about reducing senior staff numbers and diverting coin to program-making.

Mark Byford, the BBC’s deputy director general, will quit early next summer following a career at the pubcaster that has spanned more than 30 years.

The post of deputy director general will be scrapped.

Byford, who is in overall charge of the BBC’s journalism, is a controversial figure within the corp because of his pension package, accrued over 32 years service and worth several million pounds.

It is understood he will receive a pay-off worth up to £900,000 ($1.4 million).

Although one of the BBC’s longest serving senior staffers, Byford, who is 52, has somehow managed to cultivate a relatively low profile — apart from several weeks in 2004 when he ran the corp following the sacking of director-general Greg Dyke.

Byford was then beaten to the top job by Mark Thompson, who in a statement praised him for playing “a critical role in recent years as the leader of all journalism across the BBC” and for being “an outstanding deputy.”

However, many rank-and-file corp staff will not be sorry to see his departure.

This is because Byford, more than any other single BBC topper, was regarded as the personification of the huge discrepancies in pay and perks that a lot of employees believe is slowing undermining the BBC by providing ammunition for its critics and lowering morale.

Byford’s expenses have been a target for press disapproval. Recently he claimed £5,000 ($7,900) for flights to South Africa to see the soccer World Cup final.

Other executive board exits are believed to be in the cards.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Peter Salmon, a former BBC 1 controller who is in charge of the corp’s move to a new HQ in Salford, near Manchester, in the North of England, will be the next to quit the pubcaster’s senior team.

Salmon embarrassed the BBC by recently admitting that he would not be moving full-time to Salford, despite urging staff to end their lives in London for a bright, new future in a more deprived area of the U.K.

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