BBC Should Not Get into Talent Battles Says New Trust Chairman

Talent-drain is "something you live with" says Chris Patten.

LONDON - The BBC can't expect to hold onto top talent, even talent it has fostered and launched itself, incoming BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten said Wednesday. Speaking to BBC radio after his first day in the job, Patten warned executives that the pubcaster shouldn't get involved in over-bidding for big-name stars.

Talent-drain is "something you live with," Patten said, adding that unlike its commercial sector rivals, the BBC did not have to "flog ads and sell subscriptions up and down the street."

The BBC's job was to "discover, train and employ talent for a few seasons," Patten said. If those stars were then "snapped up by competitors" the BBC "shouldn't feel so bad about that."

His comments come just a week after BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said that channel was losing talent to broadcasters like Channel 4 because it couldn’t compete on price.

"We have already lost people. It is getting much harder and there's and ongoing battle with that," Cohen said.

Patten said the BBC would continue with its strategy of cutting back salary levels for senior staff, admitting that pay levels were still too high in "some cases."