Belmont Club

And you seem like a friend to me ...

There’s a moral in this story somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is. The Daily Mail reports that the BBC is trying to prevent the disclosure of the salaries it pays to its top radio hosts because the data may show that the state-supported media giant spends much than its commercial rivals in equivalent slots.

The BBC will be branded ‘disgraceful’ by MPs today for refusing to reveal details of the bumper salaries lavished on some of its top presenters. A committee of MPs found that the lucrative pay packets mean BBC radio shows are up to six times more expensive to produce than their commercial rivals. …

The withering report by the Public Accounts Committee, issued today, also highlights the fact that the corporation had tried to impose a gagging order on the government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, to prevent it revealing the size of the salaries.

Personally I have nothing against people being paid what they are worth, but when salaries are paid outside of the competitive market, how do you know what they’re worth? There will be pressure, as some newspapers fail, to argue that such essential services must be supported, to some extent by the taxpayer. But again, to what extent? If it is taken as a political decision, and if even the data behind that decision remains secret, then what objective basis is there at all for resource allocation? In the New Capitalism, how much is that doggy in the window?

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