BBC News

The issue with BBC Studios becoming commercial

Amol Rajan
Media editor
@amolrajanBBCon Twitter

image captionTony Hall says the BBC's current fixed income is "not sustainable"

The publication of this report shows the perennial difficulty of reporting any financial year, and the disadvantages of removing BBC Studios from the equation of salaries disclosed.

While there has been some progress in improving the overall balance of this list - on which my own name appears - the top of the list is still dominated by men.

Had BBC Studios' salaries been included, there would have been a better balance of men and women overall on the list, and more of the names at the very summit of the list would have been female.

But the BBC argues that it needs BBC Studios to flourish commercially, and publishing names there would put it at a disadvantage.

The other problem for the corporation is that, because the figures here reflect the past financial year, major changes - whether some men being paid less, or some women being paid more - aren't in the figures available today. They will only filter through next year.

This is the sense in which such financial reporting always seems a year behind.

While the issue of equal pay and the gender pay gap will dominate headlines, the annual report mentions an existential question for the BBC, which the director-general also addressed when I spoke to him.

Lord Hall of Birkenhead says the current model of the BBC, in which it has a fixed income in a super-inflationary market - where the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and Disney are all spending billions building direct-to-consumer, global offerings - "is not sustainable".

I asked him what he intends to do about this. Apparently the BBC board are turning their attention to this in the autumn, making it a priority after August. But it already feels late.

Devising a plausible solution to the BBC's fixed revenue model, perhaps in conjunction with other public service broadcasters - or failing to do so - will be an even bigger part of Lord Hall's legacy than equal pay.

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Related Topics

  • BBC
  • Tony Hall
  • BBC pay
  • Gender pay gap

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