New BBC boss Tony Hall vows to tackle senior staff pay-offs

Tony Hall
Image caption Tony Hall says pay-offs are a "serious issue"

Tony Hall has vowed to review senior staff pay-offs and salaries at the BBC.

The new director general said the size of pay-offs "has not been right" and that the corporation must justify how it spends the licence fee.

Lord Hall takes over after the BBC was accused of "rewarding failure" over the £450,000 paid to his predecessor George Entwistle.

Mr Entwistle resigned after 54 days in the job at the height of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

Lord Hall told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was a need for the corporation to look at how it spends all its money, including pay-offs for senior executives.

He said: "I think the size of the pay-offs has not been right... There is a serious issue here.

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Media captionTony Hall: The BBC has been though a bad time

"I'm looking at pay-offs and I will have something to say about pay-offs in the next couple of weeks."

He said capping the senior salaries bill would be part of his plan to "simplify" the organisation.

"Senior salaries is a big issue... the senior salaries bill has come down already by a third and it will not grow under me," he went on.

"I will be looking for ways of simplifying the organisation, responding to things I hear from both insiders and also outsiders about the way this place can work more effectively."

'Feeling the pinch'

Lord Hall said it was time to look at how all the corporation's money was spent while keeping in mind the difficult circumstances the country as a whole was facing.

He said: "We've got to look at the way we spend all our money - on managers, on programmes, on everything as if we were spending our own personal money.

"At a time when every single family in this country is feeling hard up, is feeling the pinch, is feeling the difficult times - we've got to be able to justify what we spend to the people who are paying for us."

The director general said the lessons of the Jimmy Savile affair were being learned and he expected the recommendations of three reviews to be carried out.

He defended the decision to move some figures criticised by the recent Pollard review, which looked at Newsnight's decision to drop an investigation into sexual abuse by Savile, to new jobs within the corporation.

He said: "The BBC has been through a rough time... it's been even rougher for those affected by Savile too, and others.

"The Pollard review has been carried out and the recommendations of the Pollard review are now being implemented.

"We have two more reviews to come and I would be amazed if they were not implemented as well."

'Rebuild trust'

He added: "I do think lessons have been learned. You have got to understand what's happened and make sure that does not happen again, and then rebuild trust in what is at the core of the BBC - which is the news services."

Lord Hall said his predecessor George Entwistle had left the BBC and others had moved to other jobs in the wake of the scandal.

"I don't say that is particularly good for them," he said. "It's not."

The new director general said he had joined the BBC because he "cared passionately" about the organisation.

He added that appointing a new head of news and editor for Newsnight was "top of the in tray".

Among the challenges facing Lord Hall, who has been chief executive of the Royal Opera House for the past 12 years, is a dispute over jobs and budget cuts.

He is expected to meet with unions, whose members claim cuts at the corporation have led to compulsory redundancies, unacceptable workloads and bullying.

The dispute led to a 12-hour strike before Easter by members of the National Union of Journalists and Bectu, affecting programmes including news bulletins.

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