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Who's Who at the BBC

Simon Pitt | News | Thursday 12th November 2009

Please note that this article was written in 2009, and therefore some of the information is out of date.

In an effort to appear more open and answerable to their owners (us, the public) the BBC has revealed the salaries of the top 107 "decision makers". This article is a brief overview of "them at the top" and a quick look at how they got where they are today.

Firstly, we'll have a look at the structure of the BBC. As licence payers and owners of the BBC, we are represented through the BBC Trust, eleven men and women who set the course for the BBC. Recently, the Trust has come into trouble - mainly from the Tories, and they'll say anything to get a cheer. However, this caused what Mark Thompson described as a "frankly puzzling" attack on the Trust by Ben Bradshaw, who claimed it was "both regulator and cheerleader". The Tories have said they will scrap the BBC Trust and pass its duties onto an external body, possibly Ofcom. Whether that will happen or not is a separate matter. In the mean time, the BBC Trust sits slightly apart from BBC executives, and overlooks all that the BBC does.

BBC Trust: The day-to-day running of the BBC is carried out by the executive board (often known as the Direction Group, or Steering Group). This consists of: The BBC consists of nine key departments: The BBC also has three commerical arms: Perhaps the two most interesting departments are the areas that make TV and Radio. Of course, just calling them BBC TV and BBC Radio would be too obvious (that's so 1980), so instead they are called BBC Vision and BBC Audio & Music, and they are run by (among others):

Vision Audio & Music

In Depth Analysis

Now, who are these people, and just how did they get to where they are?

Mark Thompson
Name: Mark Thompson
Title: Director General
Education: Oxford
Date of Birth (Age): 31/07/57 (52)
Salay: £664,000
Total: £834,000
Most outlandish expense: a 70p parking ticket

At the top of the pile is Mark Thompson, the big cheese, the top banana, captain of the Starship BBC. Mark Thompson took over as director general in 2004 after Grek Dyke resigned when Andrew Gilligan presented a story about the Government's false justification for going into Iraq. The fact that the story was true, and that the BBC lost one of its best Director Generals and and the Today programme one of its best political correspondents, didn't seem to bother those who accepted Dyke's resignation.

Thompson has worked at the BBC for nearly 30 years now (despite a brief break to go and run Channel 4 between 2001 and 2004).

1979 Joined as production trainee
1988 Editor of 9 O'Clock news
1990 Editor of Panorama
1992 Head of Features
1994 Head of Factual
1996 Controller of BBC2
1999 Director of National and regional programming
2000 Director of BBC TV
2001 Head of Channel 4
2004 Director General

Mark Byford
Name: Mark Byford
Title: Deputy Director General
Education: Leeds
Date of Birth (Age): 13/06/58 (51)
Salary: £471,000
Total: £485,000
Most outlandish expense: £13 excess baggage charge

The next of the duo of Marks is Mark Byford, deputy director general of the BBC. A few years ago, the role of deputy director general didn't exist, and even now, it's a role that is being made up as they go along. Like The Mark just above him, Byford has been at the BBC for the last 30 years. Unlike Thompson, though, who came in on the BBC graduate training scheme, Byford started at the bottom and, very rapidly, worked his way up.

1979 Temporary holiday relief assistant.
1981 Produced Regional News programme of the Year
1982 Assistant News Editor of South Today
1985 Documentary features producer at BBC South
1987 News editor at BBC West
1988 Home New Editor.
1989 Head of BBC North
1991 Controller Regional Broadcasting
1996 Director, Regional Broadcasting
1998 Director, World Service
2004 Deputy Director General
2004 Acting Director General
2004 Deputy Director General
2004 Became responsible for BBC journalism
2006 Became responsible for BBC Sport

Jana Bennett
Name: Jana Bennett
Title: Director, BBC Vision
Education: Oxford
Date of Birth (Age): 1956/1957 (52)
Salary: £412,000
Total: £515,000
Most outlandish expense: £171.50 for a "small amount of hospitality". Also the now infamous £500 for her stolen handbag. In the BBC notes, they say this was only half the value of the stolen money.

1979 really seems to have been the year to join the BBC, with both the Marks and Bennett joining that year. Bennett managed to survive the now largely forgotten "Queengate" affair, that led to the resignation of BBC1 Controller Peter Fincham. If you're looking for reasons to dislike her, she claimed the most expenses of anyone except Thompson (£59,673.73 over five years).

1979 Joined as News trainee
1986 Panorama
1990 Editor of Horizon
1994 Head of Science
1997 Director of Production
1997 Director of Programmes (BBC Production)
1999 Leaves BBC for Discovery
2002 BBC Director of Television
2006 Director, BBC Vision

Jay Hunt
Name: Jay Hunt
Title: Controller, BBC One
Education: Cambridge
Date of Birth (Age): 1967 (42)
Salary: £265,000
Total: £272,800
Most outlandish expense: A bottle of spirits for £29.74

Another Oxbridge educated executive, Jay Hunt became Controller of BBC One after Peter Fincham was given the kick because someone made the Queen look annoyed. Like Jana she has managed to sail through at least one scandal: in 2009, it was revealed she and her husband founded BrightsparkTV, a production company which had a contract with the BBC. Allegations of unfair trading were dismissed by the BBC, which did not investigate the matter.

1989 Researcher, BBC Breakfast News
1994 Newsnight, Output Editor and Filmmaker
1998 Panorama
1999 Editor One O'Clock News
2001 Editor of Six O'Clock News
2002 Executive Producer for Daytime
2003 Senior Commissioning Executive for Daytime
2004 Senior Commissioning Editor, Daytime
2005 Controller of BBC Daytime
2007 Controller of BBC Daytime and Early Peak
2007 Left BBC for six months to work at Five.
2008 Controller of BBC One

Janice Hadlow
Name: Janice Hadlow
Title: Controller, BBC Two
Education: Kings College London, Royal Holloway
Date of Birth (Age): 1957 (52)
Salary: £225,000
Total: £232,800
Most outlandish expense: £107.45 for "external business entertainment" for an interview with Broadcast.

1986 Production Trainee
1987 Producer, Radio 4
1989 Producer, The Late Show
1992 Editor, The Late Show
1993 Music and Arts
1995 Joint head of History
1999 Channel 4, Head of History, Art and Religion
2002 Head of Specialist Factual
2004 Controller BBC Four
2008 Controller, BBC Two

Danny Cohen
Name: Danny Cohen
Title: Controller, BBC Three
Date of Birth (Age): 1974 (35)
Education: Oxford
Salary: £225,000
Total: £232,800
Most outlandish expense: A £438.58 lunch meeting to discuss series 2 of Being Human

1994 TVF
1994 Granada
1995 Researcher, Diverse
1999 Head of Development, Diverse
2000 Factual Commissioning Editor, E4
2006 Head of Channel 4 Factual Entertainment
2007 Controller BBC Three

Richard Klein
Name: Richard Klein
Title: Controller, BBC Four
Date of Birth (Age): 1958 (51)
Education: Aberdeen
Salary: £195,000
Total: £202,800
Most outlandish expense: A £1.55 snack on a train to Cardiff

Richard Klein is rather a different beast from the other executives here. He didn't go to Oxbridge, and he didn't get onto the BBC Production Trainee Scheme. Indeed, from 1976 - 1979 he didn't work in the media at all, instead he seems to have struggled to find work. At one point he worked as a postman. From then he spent many years freelancing before joining the BBC as a current affairs producer. In an interview with the Telegraph, Klein said, "I'm quite serious as a person". Which is probably want you want from the controller of "a place to think".

1976 Postman
1986 Reporter, Hornsey Journal
1987 Researcher on LWT's The London programme
1990 Freelance researcher/producer
1996 Joined BBC as current affairs producer/director
2007 Head of Independent Commissioning, Knowledge
2008 Controller BBC Four

Tim Davie
Name: Tim Davie
Title: Director, Audio & Music
Education: Cambridge
Date of Birth (Age): 1967 (42)
Salary: £325,000
Total: £403,000
Most outlandish expense: "Staff Christmas Entertainment" for £364

Tim Davie was Thompson's first external appointment as Director General, and is the most senior figure who doesn't have a background in the BBC. "It is a very TV thing to think that you have to know the product," the Guardian quoted one BBC source. "In reality it is very much a leadership role. You have to know how to run a business, not make a programme." If that's the case, and it's all about leadership and management, not knowledge, you have to wonder, then, why most people at the top have spent 30 years at the BBC.

1991 Brand Manager with Procter and Gamble
1993 UK Marketing Manager for Pepsi
1996 Started work on ill fated Pepsi Blue
1990s Vice President, Marketing, Europe and Sub-Sahara Africa
1990s Vice President for Marketing and Franchise
2005 BBC Director of Marketing, Communications and Audiences
2008 Director, Audio & Music

Mark Damazer
Name: Mark Damazer
Title: Controller, Radio 4 and Radio 7
Education: Cambridge
Date of Birth (Age): 15/04/55 (54)
Salary: £210,000
Total: £217,800
Most outlandish expense: An £80.95 car parking ticket.

Mark Damazer is probably the third most important Mark in the BBC. As somone observed the other day, "you have to be reasonably intelligent to run Radio 4." Damazer is certainly that, gaining a Double Starred First in History from Cambridge and being awarded the Harkness Fellowship to Harvard University.

1980 Trained at ITN with Edward Stourton and Michael Crick.
1981 BBC World Service, Current Affaird Producer
1982 ITV TV-AM
1984 BBC News
1986 Newsnight Editor
1988 Deputy Editor of Nine O'Clock News
1990 Editor of Nine O'Clock News
1994 Editor of Television News Programme
1996 Head of Current Affairs
1998 Head of Political Programmes
1999 Assistant Director of BBC News
2001 Deputy Director
2004 Controller Radio 4 and Radio 7



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