BBC Trust to review spending on talent


LONDON -- The BBC has hired independent consultants to carry out a review of the amount of cash it spends on talent and whether such highly paid stars as talk show host Jonathan Ross represent value for money.

The pubcasters governing body, the BBC Trust, said Friday that it has hired research firm Oliver & Ohlbaum to examine whether the pubcaster's payments are inflating the market for broadcast talent.

The review, due in the spring, will look at how the BBC's reward packages compare with other broadcasters and examine whether the pubcaster gets a genuine return on its investment.

"Where practicable, the study will compare the size and structure of the BBC's reward packages with those offered by other broadcasters," the trust said, outlining the terms of reference if the inquiry.

"It will also examine whether there have been any significant changes in the BBC's policy towards the reward of talent in recent years in response to market changes such as the development of new platforms and the proliferation of channels," the trust said.

BBC director general Mark Thompson has always defended the pubcaster's decision to pay market rates for such onscreen talent as chat show host Jonathan Ross, who reputedly signed an 18 million pound ($37 million), three-year deal with BBC1 last year.