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No duck moats, mortgage payments or hanging baskets. BBC tech execs emerged in better tact than MPs, after the corporation disclosed executive expenses Thursday. Part of a wide-ranging effort at greater transparency in the wake of the Westminster scandal, they show how Ashley Highfield’s claims swelled during iPlayer planning – but there’s no reason for suspicion…
Ashley Highfield – director of new media and technology, later future media and technology (Oct 2000 to Apr 2008)
— 2008/09: £6,529.24
— 2007/08: £6,410.40
— 2006/07: £14,613.68
— 2005/06: £12,880.17
— 2004/05: £7,084.27
Highfield’s salary reached £466,000, the BBC said last year.
Erik Huggers, director of future media and technology (from July 2008 to date)
— 2008/09: £5,664.64
A separate disclosure of salaries for the BBC’s top 50 execs today puts his pay packet at between £310,000 and £340,000, with CTO Jon Linwood on £220,000 to £250,000 and archive director Roly Keating on £250,000 to £280,000.
Here are the full downloads. Amongst the claims…
— £1,512.72 by Highfield for a staff lunch at MipTV in Cannes.
— A £1,430.08 restaurant bill from Highfield for 29 people at a Las Vegas hotel.
— £1,624.48 on two private car bookings by Huggers.
— Highfield’s £53-a-month Sky subscription, so he is “fully informed about emerging digital and interactive technology” (didn’t appear after 2005).
— There’s an August 2007 hospitality expense listed as “Commercial iPlayer” – but really we already knew the BBC would like Worldwide to benefit from the VOD service.
But, whilst it will be easy for suspicious newspapers to criticise the claims now that they’re public, there’s a vast gulf between these figures and the more questionable MP claims, which are of a whole different nature.
These claims might sound high to some members of the public but, on the whole, they merely show two senior decision-makers busily meeting with key international counterparts, learning from the important global conferences, generally engaging with new media as per their brief and maintaining team spirit.
The net outcome was an iPlayer that, despite its trials and tribulations, is now vastly more valuable than the sum of the claims. You can’t run one of the world’s most respected broadcasters without incurring some costs…