Sunday, June 28, 2009

Open Your Eyes

The perks and expenses of senior BBC people are coming under scrutiny at the moment. Even after allowing for the fact that Rupert Murdoch has a strategic financial interest in clipping the BBC's wings, there are certainly some questions to be answered.

As we have seen in The City and in Parliament and in big business and elsewhere, when you allow people - any people - to set their own remuneration they will, being human, give themselves the benefit of the doubt. Any sensible system will impose impartial and firm controls to deal with this fundamental trait of human nature.

I have a serious suggestion for the BBC. Let the senior people who control its spending each sit for a day at the back of a magistrates' court that is dealing with TV licensing cases. Let them see the procession of poor, usually female, usually bedraggled people who trudge through court, having, under the new fine guidelines, three-figure fines imposed, plus costs and (!) Victim Surcharge. Of course there is a proportion of people who just don't like paying any bill, but let's put this into perspective. The licence fee is more than two weeks of Jobseeker's Allowance, and about a day-and-a-half's worth of the average wage. The £2000 spent on flying the boss's family back because Sir had to sort out the Ross/Brand fiasco represents more than 33 weeks' worth of JSA for the poorest licence payers. So come and have a look at JPs fining the unlicensed in - note - a criminal court. Then, next time you want to charge up a £200 lunch at the Ivy for two people who are already well-off you will have a better idea of where the money comes from. I'll be happy to arrange it, and I might even come along myself.

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