I’ve never listened to either 6 Music or the Asian Network, so if they’re axed I can’t say I’ll miss them. But I’m very angry about their impending demise.
The BBC is clearly keen to show it can cut back, which is good. I’m not going to argue the case for those two stations, because I don’t know the full picture, but it angers me that stations are being axed when the BBC is failing to deal with its core problem: the amount it pays on executive salaries and expenses.
The recent report into BBC pay showed 137 BBC executives are on £100,000 or more. That strikes me as a remarkably top-heavy organisation. The money being paid for ‘celebrity talent’ is another worry, though I won’t go down the Jonathan Ross road as I think even the BBC have realised that £6 million a year is too much.
And the expenses that are paid within the BBC are a scandal. I don’t know if the report that Alan Hansen is paid a taxi each way from his home in the north-west to London to be on ‘Match of the Day’ is true, but the trouble is it’s believable.
It would be wrong to have a go at the BBC alone. Bankers and Premiership footballers are on the kind of silly money that makes them lose touch with the real world. A former colleague of mine, writing in the Daily Telegraph, recently told of a meeting with the chairman of a prominent football club suffering financial woes. When asked why the club had got into such trouble, the chairman said he really wasn’t sure because they weren’t paying their players more than £12,000 a week. That’s well over £600,000 a year! If he thought this was prudent, no wonder he’s not sure why his club’s in difficulties.
There’s a section of society that has simply lost its connection with what it costs to live – and it’s dragging the rest of us down with it.
The average salary in this county is £30,000, and there are plenty who have to live on that. Of course we all want a bit more, and for most of us, hitting £50,000 by the time we’re 50 is a sign that we’re doing reasonably well. Unless you have an exceptional amount of responsibilities, £50,000 is the kind of salary we can all live on, with a couple of luxuries thrown in.
If some businesses can justify paying much more than that, then fine. But it must be justified! The problem is that pay increases have gone up in the good times and not come down in the bad. It has led to a situation where people’s salary is not what their job warrants but what they think they’re worth, which are two totally different things.
We need to stop, take stock, decide what is a reasonable salary for people in responsible jobs, and say that anything more than that has to be justified in terms of money they can bring in. If we fail to do that, we’ll never get properly out of recession, whatever the economic indicators say.