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    Do BBC journos have a right to lecture MPs?


    by guest on 14th May, 2009 at 11:20 am    

    A guest post by Nindy, who blogs here.

    As much as I despise overpaid politicians who abuse their democratic powers for their own benefit, I equally deplore overpaid members of the media circuit whose attacks on public figures for their incompetence and lack of good character, whilst being unable to legitimately justify their grossly disproportionate salaries, is just outright hypocritical.

    Even more so, when so many journalists – especially at local level – are paid exploitive wages, if that at all, it would make sense for a greater investment in new talent and a redistribution of the wealth across all echelons of media organizations.

    It’s a poor excuse to defend such lavish salaries based on the assertion that it is proportionate to the important and heavy task of executive and boardroom positions, and that in order to compete with other organizations in the market, bountiful rewards are needed to keep the talent. This is a nonsensical and unjustifiable argument that only goes to show that the motivation of money is just as high as civic duty, and when so many organizations are operating in debt and seeking new models of funding – as in the case of Channel 4 – does it not make sense to begin at the top?

    Luke Johnson, Channel 4 Chairmen, in defending the organizations pay packages, made the rather weak defence that it was commendable behaviour for their two top execs to have taken pay cuts. Indeed, it is a travesty that Kevin Lygo, Channel 4 director of television and content will be on tight £600,000 a year while the corporation seeks new cost-efficient business models to keep operating as a successful broadcaster.

    The BBC meanwhile sticks to it’s policy of “commercial confidentiality and privacy” in defending its unwillingness to publish the salaries of some of its high earners. If David Cameron is elected as Prime Minister next year, I welcome his proposal to publish the names of public sector workers on more than £150,000 a year. If Gordon Brown stays as PM, then I hope he develops a similar policy. These people need to rationalize their wages. Where have their values gone, their ethics?

    If the high-earners at the BBC snipped off a few thousand pounds here and there on the 339 BBC staff that are paid over £100,000, then the general public would be better off. For one we would have a cheaper TV license, and that is something to smile about in hard times. So, it is I take my hat off to Lord Foulkes for hitting the self-righteous BBC right where it hurts.



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    21 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. platinum786 — on 14th May, 2009 at 11:59 am  

      i don’t see what earning high salaries has to do with exposing corruption?

      First and foremost, they question the MP’s because we can’t, we don’t have access to them the same way the media does.

      Secondly, asides from the BBC, the other channels are commercial aren’t they? Channel 4 etc make their own money rather than use tax payer money don’t they? Who cares how they choose to spend it.

      I think this almost anti-rich attitude of some people is dangerous, it’s too personal. Where does it stop? Most of us earn ~£20,000 a year (national average), Doctors earn ~£80,000 a year and upwards. Surely if they care about people they should be willing to work on half of that, considering the great expense the NHS in on the tax payer.

      To me when we start questioning how much people earn and what right they have to that money, especially in the private sector, we approach on communism, it’s too control-freaky for my liking.

    2. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

      I am not easily offended but this article stakes out a replulsive position.

      It suggests that no one should be in a position to publicly criticise the MPs. Its giving them a carte blanche. I do not feel inclined to engage in the argument about BBC salaries (although I have strong feelings there too).

      ‘So, it is I take my hat off to Lord Foulkes for hitting the self-righteous BBC right where it hurts.’

      Lord Foulkes is an idiot who would be better off selling car insurance or at least get a job as a stand-in for Michael Winner.

    3. Narinder Purba — on 14th May, 2009 at 12:38 pm  

      The post above is intended to add another dimension to the discussion of expenses in the context of the wider financial crisis. I agree that the media is right in exposing the shameful abuse of power by our MPs, but I also find it rather cheeky for traditional mass media institutions to take the moral high-ground when they themselves hardly run their respective organizations in a fair and just way.

      They should open up the debate to extend to huge gulfs between entry level workers and those who sit at the top. I find it hard for them to justify their wages. Is there job so important that they they get such large sums? I don’t think so.

      We’re living through a recession. We want fairness. We want better wages. We want more respect for the work we do.

    4. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 12:47 pm  

      ‘We’re living through a recession. We want fairness. We want better wages. We want more respect for the work we do.’

      Agree with this. But your timing is not good, it allows them to spread the blame. I am also opposed to all those who harp on about the quality of MPs based on the salary.

      As for George Foulkes, come on!

    5. Leon — on 14th May, 2009 at 1:22 pm  

      It suggests that no one should be in a position to publicly criticise the MPs. Its giving them a carte blanche. I do not feel inclined to engage in the argument about BBC salaries (although I have strong feelings there too).

      Indeed, I actually thought it was quite gutsy of her to fess up on how much she was earning. Her point about not making personal calls at the expense of the BBC was also good.

    6. Leon — on 14th May, 2009 at 1:24 pm  

      Doctors earn ~£80,000 a year and upwards.

      I don’t know what kind of Doctors you earn but I can tell you as fact that they don’t all earn that!

    7. Narinder Purba — on 14th May, 2009 at 1:54 pm  

      Now I’m not a fan of Foulkes but any man who gets a BBC presenter to reveal their salary and then defend it with the weak defence that one doesn’t charge the BBC for personal calls deserves some credit for bringing another level to the conversation, albeit it inadvertently.

      I do disagree with Foulkes position that she does a less important job. Regardless of whether this was an attack on news readers or journalism in general, the Telegraph’s expose on expenses has highlighted how important good journalism is. If it wasn’t for the scoop, we would not have known the extent of the abuse at hand and further, as is palpably clear, MPs would continued to have milked the system. The media, along with other institutions, acts as a safeguard to liberty by being an instrument of checks and balances.

      Foulkes should remember that.

    8. Jai — on 14th May, 2009 at 1:57 pm  

      I don’t know what kind of Doctors you earn but I can tell you as fact that they don’t all earn that!

      That’s absolutely correct. Except for the really senior hospital consultants & surgeons, it’s only GPs who earn £80k+, and that’s only when they reach a certain level of seniority in the practice they’ve joined (if they work with one or more other doctors in the GP partnership).

      Which doesn’t mean the rest of them are stuck on £20k, of course, but junior doctors in particular and even hospital doctors in the early years of their stint as consultants don’t actually earn anywhere near as much as one might think, especially compared to doctors in “private practice” (ie. non-NHS) and most of all compared to various parts of the private sector in the business world.

    9. Refresh — on 14th May, 2009 at 2:01 pm  

      The fundamental problem we now have is that each MPs job is now in the hands of their party leader and the chief whip. Even more so than before.

      This undermines our democracy further. These MPs are too busy maintaining their jobs by keeping in with their whips and therefore less inclined to make a proper contribution on behalf of their constituents. A good measure is usually the number of rebels, and the vote on the post office bill will be further evidence.

      For this reason I would watch Cameron’s ’scrutiny panel’ very carefully.

      They are also too busy looking to have their salaries increased by way of promotion.

    10. Sunny — on 14th May, 2009 at 2:03 pm  

      Indeed, I actually thought it was quite gutsy of her to fess up on how much she was earning. Her point about not making personal calls at the expense of the BBC was also good.

      It also turns out her co-presenter earns nearly a 100,000 more than her a year! nearly 200k! The BBC pays its people far too much.

    11. Leon — on 14th May, 2009 at 2:17 pm  

      That’s absolutely correct. Except for the really senior hospital consultants & surgeons, it’s only GPs who earn £80k+, and that’s only when they reach a certain level of seniority in the practice they’ve joined (if they work with one or more other doctors in the GP partnership).

      Which doesn’t mean the rest of them are stuck on £20k, of course, but junior doctors in particular and even hospital doctors in the early years of their stint as consultants don’t actually earn anywhere near as much as one might think, especially compared to doctors in “private practice” (ie. non-NHS) and most of all compared to various parts of the private sector in the business world.

      Many f1’s are on about 24k which is shit if you think they’ve done 6 years study, accrued about 30-40ks worth of debt and doing an important job…

    12. Leon — on 14th May, 2009 at 2:18 pm  

      It also turns out her co-presenter earns nearly a 100,000 more than her a year! nearly 200k! The BBC pays its people far too much.

      Oh dear, I bet there’s been some ‘interesting’ discussions off camera about that…

    13. Jai — on 14th May, 2009 at 2:42 pm  

      Many f1’s are on about 24k which is shit if you think they’ve done 6 years study, accrued about 30-40ks worth of debt and doing an important job…

      Oh, absolutely. I think that junior/mid-level NHS doctors are grossly underpaid considering what they actually do for a living, especially compared to their counterparts in the US (although even over there, it often depends on what kind of hospital they work at).

    14. cjcjc — on 14th May, 2009 at 3:03 pm  

      Hasn’t the idiot (and large-scale trougher) Foulkes ever heard the expression that two wrongs don’t make a right?

      Well, let’s get a few average-earning members of the public on the air to lecture him…he can bully a female newscaster, woo, big man.

      Utter utter f*t c**t.

      (Sorry - I am just too furious).

    15. Adnan — on 14th May, 2009 at 3:58 pm  

      Does Foulkes’ argument constitute “whataboutery” ? What are the rules / parameters for an argument to classified as “whataboutery” ? Does it come under the class of fallacies that BenSix occasionally points out ?

      Is an accusation of “whataboutery” something more than a mechanism used by some commentators on PP to shut down / belittle others’ arguments ?

      It’s a serious question, no trolling, or sarcasm intended.

    16. ceedee — on 14th May, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

      Oh cjcjc please stop it!

      I’m beginning to warm to you…
      :-)

    17. Amrit — on 14th May, 2009 at 5:13 pm  

      To answer the post’s central Q: yes and no.

      Man, greed really makes people lose their hold on reality. I cannot believe that it comes to pass that in 2009, BBC presenters earn much better money than doctors and nurses, and MPs think that they are ‘entitled’ to things like the second home allowance.

      Why don’t they just come clean and admit how they feel that they’re entitled to second homes, full stop? Gee, I can’t actually think of many people who can afford to live in two places at once.

      ‘Value’ is a term that has become more and more distorted as it entirely signifies ‘money.’ What the hell happened to people taking pride in their jobs?! This excuse of ‘oh, but talent will go elsewhere,’ is such bull, it actually hurts. SO WHAT?! Will talent never be found again elsewhere? I can never help remembering a statistic that my mentor told us when I hear that said: ‘China has more Gifted and Talented students than we have students, full stop.’

      I very much agree with your third paragraph, Narinder/Nindy.

    18. MaidMarian — on 14th May, 2009 at 5:34 pm  

      Jai (13) - It is a bit of an urban legend that all doctors get paid vast sums in the US, though for sure, doctors there are well paid. A US resident (akin to a UK SpR/StR) is likely to have six figure student debts. US doctors are also obliged to take out very expensive insurance as litigation is endemic in US practice.

      That said, doctors who pass the US Boards exams and take fellowships have little problem finding lucrative work.

      More generally, UK doctors tend to have a wider range of practice. In the US there is a huge incentive to specialise in areas of medical practice that can easily be ’sold.’

      On the comment at 3 - yes, wage differentials are a big problem, but you may be better looking at how we got to that. I would argue that the housing market has compounded the problems we see. MPs in the UK are - in fact not paid that well in comparison to other countries and it has not been a secret that the expenses system long ago became a de facto wage subsidy.

      I have never quite understood why wages for workers are inflationary, but wages for execs are not.

    19. Rayyan — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:05 pm  

      Foulkes was a pompous twat playing an immature game of whatabouttery. It is the job of the media to hold our politicians to account. It is not the job of MPs to get rich quick off of us. Yes, people like Paxman go about it in such a way as to cheapen politics. But the fact that the female anchor he put on the spot earns £92k does not detract ONE IOTA from anything she was demanding of him.

      I know there is a lot of intellectual snobbery about, with the snotty-nosed likes of Fry trying to dismiss it all because there are more pressing issues around. I know it’s trendy to say it doesn’t matter, the media are just playing this thing up. But take a look at this and then tell me if Foulkes had a right to be self-righteous about the role of the media in exposing his colleagues’ corruption:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/13/mps-expenses-public-reaction

      When was the last time he spoke out about journalists’ expenses, then? If he thought it was more important, why not say anything about it until now?

    20. Rayyan — on 14th May, 2009 at 8:09 pm  

      Oh and we aren’t Jesus btw: none of this “let he who is without a high salary cast the first expose of corrupt public officials.”

      Play the ball (the facts), not the man (the media).

    21. Pages tagged "nonsensical" — on 16th May, 2009 at 10:33 am  

      [...] bookmarks tagged nonsensical Do BBC journos have a right to lecture MPs? saved by 4 others     hieixkurama101 bookmarked on 05/16/09 | [...]



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