Michael Grades's new salary - not half bad if you can get the work

 by Martin Belam, 29 November 2006

The media-will-eat-itself feeding frenzy of the last couple of days in the UK has been the news of Michael Grade's sudden defection from the BBC to ITV.

I can't say that when I was there I was ever particularly enamoured of his appointment in the first place.

For one thing, to this day I am still annoyed that the Hutton report meant that one ill-worded news broadcast before 7am in the morning cost the BBC the resignations of both Chairman and Director-General. Needless to say, commercial news organisations that published outright lies toeing the government line around the same issue faced no such inquiry - I didn't see anyone losing their jobs at The Evening Standard for their headline "45 minutes from attack", or The Sun's claim that British troops and toruists in Cyprus were at risk from Iraq.

And secondly, and rather childishly, I had a natural aversion to Grade's appointment due to his infamous meddling with Doctor Who during the declining years of the shows original run.

On a day-to-day business the Chairman of the Board of Governors doesn't have a huge impact on content production staff, although I always find it slightly odd that the BBC both vigourously argues that the Board of Governors was an effective regulatory body holding the Corporation's management to account, whilst also arguing that when a Chairman departs it doesn't have a huge impact and it wil be business as usual.

They probably at the very least should get a new front page image for the Complaints site, even if it isn't worth rebuilding the Governors site with it only having a few weeks left to exist.


The thing that particularly caught my eye was the sums of money involved. Every year when the BBC publishes their annual report there is a raft of hand-wringing in the media about how over-paid the executives are, followed by a spate of letters to the editor and complaints to the BBC that this is a waste of the Licence Fee. The BBC always puts the counter-argument that unless it pays somewhere near the going rates for executives, it will not be able to attract and retain key staff.

Grade's departure seems to be a case in point of that. If the figures being bandied around in the press are to be believed, for leaving the BBC just five weeks before he was due to head up the new BBC Trust and regulatory framework, Grade appears to have earned himself a 1000% pay rise, from £82,946 this year, to base pay of £825,000 next year at a company everybody believes is struggling. Nice work if you can get it.


You wouldn't happen to know who I should write to to apply for the now vacant post on the BBC trust or whatever it's called, would you?

I thought they were all "appointed" by the Government in order for the body to be totally independent of any political interest ;-)


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