More transparent BBC will not name top earners

The BBC Trust has promised far more financial transparency but continues to resist demands that it names all the corporation’s top earners.

Publishing the final conclusions today of its Strategy Review, which was launched in July 2009, it said that the BBC ‘should set new standards of openness and transparency’as it seeks to cut its budget by 16 per cent over the next four years.

The BBC is going to have to cope with the effects of the two-year licence fee freeze volunteered by the Trust and Government cuts which will take £340m a year from its budget.

The review states: ‘The BBC straddles public and private sectors. Public funding requires it to be as transparent as possible, but commercial realities will always impose some limits on that.

‘Licence fee payers have clear concerns about the way the BBC spends their money in particular areas, including talent and senior pay. Commercial media companies are concerned that the BBC is not always as open as it could be about patterns of future investment, boundaries and partnership opportunities. The BBC needs to respond.

“A key test of the success of this strategy will be whether it can be shown to be working through a much wider pattern of public disclosure and reporting.”

Under proposals revealed today the BBC Trust said the corporation will publish more detailed annual budgets, ‘increase the amount of formal industry engagement around BBC Online’and produce quarterly reports on ‘expenses, gifts and hospitality’for all named senior managers paid more than £150,000.

The Trust said it will publish an annual report on how much senior managers are paid, but without naming names.

And it has said it will also publish ‘talent costs”, ie. the fees paid to the BBC’s stars, broken down into figures for the total spend in different areas.

But on the issue of naming the BBC’s top earners, today’s report states: “At the Trust’s request, the executive continues to examine the legal and commercial issues around the concept of identifying the individuals in the very highest bands.”

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