BBC Cuts Star Costs, Keeps U.K. Creative Industry Spending Flat in Latest Year

The U.K. public broadcaster said in its annual report that its annual revenue for the first time topped £5 billion ($7.8 billion).

LONDON -- The BBC spent £489 million ($761 million) on independent producers during 2011/2012, up from £467 million ($727 million) the previous year.

The BBC also said it has shrunk its star pay by 4.5 percent to £9.5 million ($14.8 million), spending just north of £203 million ($315 million) in the last financial year on salaries for its presenters and "talent", as director general Mark Thompson defended the BBC amid criticism about star pay and presenters’ fees, including those of Graham Norton and Chris Evans.

The BBC's annual report revealed 16 individuals were paid more than £500,000 ($776,800) in the financial year 2011 - 2012, three less than the year before.

Thompson earned £622,000 ($966,000) in the last financial year - down from £779,000 in 2010-11. That put the pubcaster’s top executive some 15 times better off than the average pay of a BBC employee.

The total combined salaries of the BBC's executive directors fell from £5.7 million ($8.9 million) in 2010-11 to £2.56 million largely due to the number of board members being reduced from 13 to seven.

The British public broadcaster, publishing its report and accounts for the period, said the cash is part of a £1, 095 million ($1,705 million) spend in the U.K. creative economy, largely flat from the £1,087 million spent the previous year.

The BBC also spent £277 million ($431.4 million) on artists, contributors and copyright payments for the period.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said talent and top executives can fully expect to be paid at a 70 percent discount to those offering their services in front of the camera to rival media giants such as satellite TV firm BSkyB, Channel 4 and ITV.

Mark Thompson, who steps down from his role Sept. 17 this year, handing over to George Entwistle, will oversee the broadcaster's Olympic Games 2012 coverage as a final hurrah.

Talking about the BBC results, Thompson said: "We have cut costs, yet delivered a creative revival of drama on TV and radio."

He told a media briefing Monday morning that while costs were being cut the broadcaster faced down the challenge of having to maintain quality levels in spite of that.

He noted that the mix of in house BBC productions and commissions for programming from the indie world was proving successful.

And he cited programming such as the BBC Proms, starting later this week across the pubcaster's TV and radio network, The Hollow Crown, the William Shakespeare mini-series backed by NBC Universal Television and satirical Olympic Games comedy show Twenty Twelve, as being everything he thinks the BBC should stand for.

BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster's commercial arm, posted an uptick in profit hitting £155 million ($241.4 million) during the accounting period 2011/12, up 7.9 per cent from the previous year's tally of £144 million ($224.2 million).


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