I have recently received a cheque for doing a couple of serious interviews on BBC radio. I won’t mention the station, because it is not relevant in this case. What is relevant is that the payment was tiny. Absolutely laughable. I probably spent more money on the petrol for my car to get to the studio – twice that evening.
And you know why it made me very angry? Because I am always told by the BBC staff that they have limited resources to pay freelance contributors. Money is tight, they usually say to me. And you know what I say in reply? I say to them: how come if the money is tight you still find it possible to pay people like Jonathan Ross millions of pounds a year when he is not worth even a thousandth of that amount? And the BBC people shrug their shoulders and smile sheepishly and mumble something incoherent. Because there is not much they can say to that, is there?
So here we have a situation: a former advisor to the Kremlin and to the Russian government, a former investigative journalist who tracked down top criminals and terrorists, a former political correspondent for one of the biggest press agencies in the world, who obviously knows much more than most people do, gets paid peanuts while that pretentious non-entity Ross, who can’t even pronounce half of the alphabet and has absolutely nothing of any substance to tell anyone, gets all that money? Especially considering thta as a TV licence payer I am directly financing that mediocrity.
Now, I would understand if really great presenters got paid that sort of money. People like Jeremy Paxman or Emily Metlis of Newsnight or, my personal favourite, Peter Allen of Radio Five Live Drive programme, or John Humphries of Radio 4, or Angus Dayton of whatever it is that he is now hosting, or some other really talented and great presenters. They are worth it. They are top professionals, masters of their trade. But when this talentless and charmless left wing thug Ross gets millions while most of the hard working BBC employees get paid very small salaries and we, freelance commentators are paid practically nothing for our contributions which we depend on, it really, really upsets me. Because it is not some private company which is paying some third rate presenter millions. That would be none of my business, because private companies have the right to waste their money on anything they want. In the end they pay the price for their mistakes. But here we have a situation when someone who has got no talent at all is elevated to the status of a superstar, in terms of his salary, using public money. Not to mention that the BBC at the same time is quietly laying off people to cut down the costs.
Ask any BBC employees privately what they think of Ross and his talents and they will tell you that he is no big deal. Some would even say something much stronger than that. So why is it that no one can do anything about him and some other so called huge talents who are grossly overpaid at the expense of other people?
Recently the BBC has conducted its own investigation into the amounts of money it pays its so-called stars. It was done by the BBC Trust, which, of course, consists of people who would never go against the corporation. And, naturally, the BBC Trust did not find much wrong with the salaries of the stars. Remarkably, it did point out that some presenters are overpaid and mentioned, of all people, Jeremy Paxman – a man who is actually worth every penny he gets.
So this is what I think we, TV licence payers, should do. We should write to Scotland Yard and ask the police to investigate the case of Ross. We are shareholders in the BBC and have every right to know whether any money has changed hands when his contract was negotiated or whether favours were done to any of the BBC people who pushed through this deal. Because this amounts to corruption on a grand scale and the guilty parties should be brought to account.
I am sending my letter to Scotland Yard soon. I hope you do the same.