BBC Trust salaries pledge not enough to restore public confidence, advise PROs

The BBC Trust's plan to cut executive salaries will not be enough to restore public confidence in the corporation, according to PR professionals.

Lord Patten: the BBC will address ‘toxic’ PR problem
Lord Patten: the BBC will address ‘toxic’ PR problem
In an interview on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show at the weekend, the BBC Trust’s chairman, Lord Patten, signalled that the corporation would address what he described as a ‘toxic’ PR problem by cutting the pay of some of its most senior executives.

Patten’s comments come ahead of the BBC's annual report that will be published next week, updating the public on the corporation's wage bill. It recently emerged that the BBC pays 19 presenters, actors and journalists more than £500,000 a year, although Patten’s comments focused on executive pay rather than the salaries paid to onscreen stars.

But PR experts are not convinced the move will be enough to restore public confidence in the taxpayer-funded broadcaster.

Founder of chairman of PHA Media, Phil Hall, suggested that the move was ‘more about a PR coup for Lord Patten than for the BBC'.

‘To the man in the street who goes to work every day, salaries of several hundreds of thousands of pounds seem ridiculous, but if the BBC wants to be sustainable it needs the best talent and their salaries are dictated by market forces,’ said Hall.
He added: ‘The media will lap this up and say how fantastic it is because they know their readers will approve of that view. But in reality the agenda will move on in a week or so and they will return to kicking the BBC all over again.’

Commenting on whether high executive salaries were a PR issue for the BBC, Weber Shandwick’s chairman, corporate comms and public affairs Jon McLeod said: ‘Lord Patten has reminded us that they are - so if they weren't before they are now.’

‘The move from Patten is from the BBC Trust. It is a smart one. The public wants money to go into good programming. The BBC needs to break the cycle of management psycho-babble, so amply covered in Private Eye, and focus on being lean and effective.’

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