DG out to close 'appalling divide' at BBC
Tony Hall wants to close the rift between management and staff created by severance pay revelations.
The director general, speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Thursday, said staff fury over the £60m spent over eight years by the corporation on senior manager pay-offs - some of which went beyond any contractual entitlement - was justified.
He said he understood their 'resentment and anger' and was 'concentrating on trying to lance that particular issue'.
'I really do want to heal this appalling divide between the people who are running the BBC and the people who are doing really hard work day in, day out, doing amazing things,' he told delegates.
End Quote Tony Hall Director General
I really do want to heal this appalling divide between the people who are running the BBC and the people who are doing really hard work day in, day out, doing amazing things”
Hall, who made a surprise appearance at the festival during a panel session on the issues he faced, defended the salaries he paid to some key executives, however.
He directly appointed former Labour cabinet minister James Purnell to the £295,000 post of director of strategy and digital, while bringing in Anne Bulford, on a salary of £395,000, to replace Zarin Patel at the helm of the finance and business division.
Hall said that while the BBC should not pay 'daft' rates of pay, it did have to make sure it could recruit 'people who can deliver a corporation, a BBC that we are all really proud of'.
Challenged over Purnell's pay cheque, Hall said: 'You may question, and that's your right, the rate for James Purnell. Nonetheless, I have to say he is doing a fantastic job.'Blame culture
Asked about the disastrous Digital Media Initiative, axed by the DG at a cost of £100m, Hall believed the situation was made worse by a culture which discouraged people from admitting to mistakes and difficulties.
'The thing that worried me most about DMI is the fact that people said we knew all about that, but no one said. That's a problem of culture where fingers are pointed and people don't feel they can own up and say something's wrong.
'I don't like that sort of culture. I want an organisation that can take risks and do things that are difficult, and learn from our mistakes as apposed to you made a mistake, out you go.'