BBC toppers received big pay raises and bonuses last year despite the audience deception scandals that hit the pubcaster.
Director of vision Jana Bennett drew a 24% raise, according to the annual report for 2007-08 published Tuesday. She was criticized for her role in the debacle about a trailer for a docu on Queen Elizabeth II, which was edited to make it appear that the queen had stormed out of a photoshoot. However, her £23,000 ($45,300) bonus was discounted by 40% because of “editorial lapses” that had occurred in her department.
Jenny Abramsky, soon to step down as director of audio and music, received a 27% pay hike. Both Bennett’s and Abramsky’s departments were involved in cases of audience deception related to phone-in lines for high-profile shows, including the long-running children’s show “Blue Peter” and charity fund-raisers “Children in Need” and “Sport Relief.”
But director general Mark Thompson gave up his bonus for the fourth year because an economy drive is forcing the pubcaster to cut 1,800 jobs and production budgets.
“In this period of rapid change… it didn’t feel right,” said Thompson.
However, most of Thompson’s colleagues accepted their bonuses.
The biggest, $165,000, went to BBC Worldwide’s CEO John Smith, whose division — the pubcaster’s commercial arm — upped profits by 17% to a record $232 million.
Thompson defended the pay policy, saying that in many cases, execs earned “a tiny fraction” of what they could make in the private sector.
“Some (job) candidates literally roll on the floor laughing when you mention (BBC) levels of pay,” he added.