BBC fails to communicate with staff, top exec warned Director General


BBC director general Mark Thompson

BBC director general Mark Thompson // Photo: Frank Boyd

Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, was warned by a senior executive that communication with staff over pension changes was not good enough.

Strike action in 2010 saw broadcasts, including Radio 4’s Today programme, taken off air amid union disputes. Now, emails have been uncovered revealing that concerns over the way the BBC dealt with the situation were held at the most senior levels of the corporation.

An email sent to Thompson from Technology Chief Erik Huggers said: “for an organization who is renowned around the world for informing people, we do a poor job of that with our own staff.”

Thompson appears not to have replied to the email. The following year, Huggers left the BBC for a job in Silicon Valley.

Other emails sent to Mark Thompson, which have been released under the Freedom of Information Act, shine light on lengthy internal research on the salaries of senior executives. The results of one survey, which was sent to Thompson, said: “The absolute levels of salary that are being paid to top executives were deemed far too high.” It went on to say that the salaries of executives “seemed to inflame passions even more than talent costs.”

Three days later an email was circulated which was marked: “some useful facts on top pay”. The statistics appear to attempt to justify high pay in the BBC by noting that “over 25,000 people working in the public sector earn more than £100,000 a year.” The email ends with the suggestion that the statistics “might be useful for Press briefing”

Mark Thompson last month signaled that he would step down as the director general at the end of the year, or in early 2013. He took over the role in 2004, after the resignation of Greg Dyke over the Hutton Inquiry.


Email to BBC director general Mark Thompson from Erik Huggers

Email sent from BBC Technology Chief Erik Huggers to Mark Thompson (extract)


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