BBC report hails 'genuine progress'


BBC report hails 'genuine progress'
The BBC has today been largely praised by its own board of governors' annual report, which highlights its progress in delivering the best possible service for licence fee payers and for continuing to establish an identity wholly separate from commercial rivals.

Its annual report and accounts for 2005/06 also hails the corporation's "quality content", sustained moves towards digital services accessible to all and greater operational efficiency.

Ahead of the House of Commons debate on the BBC's next charter, the governors reported that the corporation had succeeded in concentrating "on providing a quality of content that is distinctive from what is provided by the commercial sector".

As well as revealing an improved business performance from the corporation's commercial division, BBC Worldwide, the report commends the BBC for achieving the cash savings target of £105 million, largely achieved through the closing of 1,132 posts, with a further 2,000 staff due to leave over the next 12 months.

But the BBC governors expect efficiency savings of £355 million to be made annually from 2007/08 onwards, although by this time the corporation will be regulated by the newly created BBC Trust.

Michael Grade, the BBC's chairman, explained that that he was pleased the BBC had responded to criticisms in last year's report concerning the high-volume of repeated programmes, with the overall proportion falling to 8.9 per cent off all output.

He said that one of the most important aspect's of the BBC's remit was to maintain "distinctiveness from the commercial sector... and a willingness to take creative risks – even if that means the inevitable occasional failure".

Mr Grade also revealed that executive salaries had risen in line with the industry's median levels, with base pay before bonuses now standing at 4.5 per cent above the average, a statistic heavily criticised by the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (Bectu).

Gerry Morrissey, assistant general-secretary, of the union, explained that the average ten per cent pay rise experienced by BBC executives since April did not compare to the 3.5 per cent salary increase handed to its workers.

"It is extremely arrogant for the senior management team to award themselves huge pay increases in the same year that they made 3,000 staff redundant and closed the final salary pension scheme to new staff," he said.

Commenting on the publication of today's report, Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, said: "The BBC is going through huge change, moving from traditional linear broadcasting to the challenging and exciting world of interactive, on-demand digital media.

"It means the BBC's relationship with audiences is also constantly changing."

BBC Worldwide posted improved profits of £89 million for the last year, with revenue rising 28 per cent, as the BBC itself achieved a net cash position of £18 million, compared to its debts of £89 million last year.

Related categories: Management / Business, Banking / Finance, Science / Technology.

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