Sir Michael Lyons thinks the public would be reassured if they were allowed to know roughly how much the BBC pays its stars and executives.
It’s that word everyone’s so fond of: “Transparency. “
Transparency alone is not enough. Knowing the extent of something disturbing is a good start, but it isn’t the answer to the public’s dissatisfaction.
We want reassurance that we’re getting value for money, not just that Graham Norton and Fiona Bruce are raking in vast paypackets “because they’re worth it.”
When Christine Bleakley dithered over her decision to join Adrian Chiles at ITV, her dilemma was presented as a matter of whether to follow the money or preserve her integrity by not being greedy, and staying with the superior BBC for a modest sum. Well, not exactly modest; but what do I know.
Her departure endorsed the market forces argument, which the BBC always uses to defend huge salaries, while their pre emptive sacking of Bleakley made them appear frugal and resolute. It gave them the opportunity to pose as unwilling participants in a bidding war, which was angled to make them appear concerned about spending our money. Maybe they hoped that wouldn’t undermine their their market forces argument; that if you wants talent you pays for it.
Maybe they thought that transparency over pay would allay the public’s disquiet over salaries. But I don’t think it would alleviate the confusion over what actually constitutes talent, and what constitutes greed, and what constitutes quality.