BBC publishes first register of external staff earnings

Published
image copyrightPA/BBC
image captionBBC Breakfast's Dan Walker and the Today programme's Justin Webb both appear on the list

Dan Walker and Justin Webb are among the on-air BBC personalities to feature on the corporation's first register of staff earnings from external events.

BBC Breakfast presenter Walker and the Today programme's Webb are among stars to have received more than £5,000 for appearing at non-BBC events.

Andrew Marr and Emily Maitlis also appear on the register, which covers the first three months of 2021.

The register was announced last year as part of moves to ensure impartiality.

It requires on-air talent in news and current affairs, sports news and radio journalism roles to declare earnings from work undertaken outside of the BBC, including speaking engagements or corporate events.

Senior leaders are also required to declare any external engagements and seek written approval from a divisional head of department before signing up to them.

Those staff who undertake a paid-for engagement are named in the register, alongside the organisation involved and whether the fee was above or below £5,000.

The publication of this register (on which I appear once) is central to Tim Davie's big push on impartiality and - by extension - trust in the BBC.

At the start of his tenure as director general, Davie made impartiality a key focus.

He has updated the rules on how BBC staff can be on social media.

Now this register, which will lead to some bad headlines but shows the BBC continuing to embrace transparency, is a significant step in reducing potential conflicts of interest.

Together with the massive shift of staff to locations outside London, it adds to Davie's armoury in his forthcoming negotiations with No 10.

He wants to be able to point to the register, as to the new social media guidelines and the relocation of staff, as concrete measures to ensure the BBC is both trusted and universal.

Trust and universality are fundamental to the case for a licence fee, even if reformed.

The online register records payments made for appearing as a moderator, host, speaker or interviewer, for chairing panels and for judging awards.

It reveals that Walker was paid more than £5,000 in January for moderating an event for St James' Place Management and again in March for moderating an event for the Co-op.

In February Webb hosted one event for the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) and spoke at another event organised by CityWealth magazine, appearances that saw him paid more than £5,000 on both occasions.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionDirector general Tim Davie announced the register in October 2020

Speaking at one event and chairing another in March saw him receive two further payments of more than £5,000 each from Proxima Group and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Walker's BBC Breakfast colleague Louise Minchin, Webb's Today programme co-host Mishal Husain and newsreader Clive Myrie are among others to receive more than £5,000 for one or more external event.

Emma Barnett, Martha Kearney and Naga Munchetty are among the BBC stars to have received less than £5,000 for external events in the first quarter of 2021.

Only 15% of the events declared saw BBC staff paid more than £5,000, while half of those paid under that amount involved payments of below £1,000.

Yet the register does not clarify how much a BBC star can command for a single appearance or the exact amount they earn for all of their non-BBC engagements.

The BBC's editorial guidelines permit staff to carry out additional engagements, provided they do not compromise the BBC's integrity or impartiality.

Information about outside engagements and payments will be made available on a quarterly basis, with the next iteration due in July.

The register of external engagements follows criticism of some high-profile BBC employees for extra work they have taken on outside the BBC.

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