Well to be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be easy! But in our first article for the BBC Money Matters, I wanted to give a quick glance of the problems with where our money goes when we pay for the TV license.
We all know the headlines of ridiculous presenters wages, such as Gary Lineker on £1.75m. But I wanted to go further and try to put it into context with the license fee.
In addition, I wanted to address the money spent on things such as the nine BBC orchestras, that very few of us have heard of. My principal aim was to try to show that the BBC was wasting our money on services or people that most of us would consider wasn’t worth it.
And then came the problem! The minefield that is the BBC. The fact is when we talk about the BBC, most of us think of the BBC corporation being license funded entity and that’s it. But the truth is, that it is far more complex than that and like any big corporation there is most likely to be a lot of hidden truths behind the scenes.
In order to give a quick glance, I am just going to touch on some things I have found during my initial research. I was horrified and I have only just started to scratch the surface.
- What the BBC Claim
- BBC Stars Salaries
- Basic BBC Program Costs
- The Mis-Representation
- The Blatant Lie
- The Accounts Mismatch
- The Ultimate Betrayal
What the BBC Claim?
Let’s take a look at some BBC claims.
- 7 out 10 general impression rating from their overall audience
- 6 National television awards
- 42.5m BBC IPlayer Requests
- 81% of under 16’s use the BBC services every week
- 2,200 extra hours of live sport for 2019
- 56% of people think the BBC is effective at reflecting people like them
- 394m news audience around the world
- 1bn raised by Children in need since 1980
These figures are direct from the BBC’s annual report and when you look at them properly, they really are not that good.
A rating of 7 out of 10, with only 56% of people believing the programs reflect them suggests that many more people should not be paying for a license when they are not happy.
42.5m IPlayer requests with only 25m licenses suggests many people are getting the service for free, just like the 394m worldwide news followers. Why are UK households footing the bill?
2,200 extra hours of sport. It must be sport that I don’t watch because according to me Sky and BT have all the major live sports contracts.
BBC Stars Salaries
Back in July 2019, the BBC actually released a list of their top earners for the 2018 to 2019 season. Fair enough you would think, at least they are being open about it. In fact, they even tried to display it in a good light because they showed that some stars had taken pay-cuts from the previous year.
But let’s take a look at the overall picture. For the 73 stars listed that earned over £150k a year the total salary came to just over £20m But of course, as we are used to by the BBC media, the figures are actually misrepresented massively.
In fact of the top 30 stars listed, 18 of them (60%) are radio stars. Which considering the TV costs are over three times the radio costs, according to BBC’s own figures, suggests that the real cost of BBC star salaries is far more.
Basic BBC Program Costs
Now let’s look at some simple program costs, just taking into account the figures we know including the salaries that have been revealed. Let’s compare them costs to the TV license in the only way we reasonably can.
The three main presenters of Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 in the list are Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Mark Chapman with a combined salary of over £2.4m. I haven’t included Ian Wright, because I forgot! At least I’m honest, my research will not be perfect.
The BBC pay the premier league over £70m a year to show the highlights only programs. The latest figures show 7 million viewers across the 2 programs every weekend. This means if it became a subscription only service, everyone of those viewers would have to pay at least £10 a year. Of course everyone who is not a football fan is currently paying a slice of this cost.
A little more revealing is that Steve Wright has 8.1 million listeners for his afternoon radio show at a cost of £465,000. That is less than 10p per listener for the year.
Whilst these figures may not be astounding and may not knock you off your feet. When you consider it in the full picture you have to ask a couple of simple questions!
- If you are not a football fan, are you happy paying £2.4m for some has-been footballers?
- Would you pay £10 a year to watch highlights?
- Could the BBC get advertisers to pay £600 for a minute of advertising in a 3-hour show to 8.1 million listeners Yes that’s right a total of 3 minutes of low cost advertising would cover the cost.
- Where is the other £140 of my license fee going?
I have already pointed out that the BBC’s top stars list contains a misrepresentation of radio to TV stars. With TV obviously costing more than radio, how is it that the top list contains 60% of radio stars.
They have managed to misrepresent this list by simply paying the top TV stars from one of BBC commercial entities rather than from the BBC corporation. The fact is that all the top programs such as Eastenders, Casualty, Dr Who or the one-off drama series that the BBC produce are actually managed by the commercial side of the corporation, meaning they are not quite under the same legislation as the BBC corporation.
Top 10 stars in Eastenders earn over £2 million between them, whilst Derek Thompson, from Casualty, earns up to £400k per year. Whilst a recent report on Line of Duty stated that each of its five main stars was paid exactly the same, with their net worth ranging from £1m to almost £13m each.
These actors are not cheap. And if their true wages were included in the BBC corporation list, then it would reveal just how much the BBC are misrepresenting the facts.
The Blatant Lie
I said earlier, that I was horrified by the results of my basic research, but as to yet I have not really revealed anything that horrifying. But here goes!
On the governance pages of the BBC website, they state that “The license fee is supplemented by income from the activities of our three commercial subsidiaries – BBC Studios, BBC Global News and BBC Studioworks”. Now I, like everyone would, read that as the BBC has three commercial subsidiaries.
The fact is there are far more companies attached to the BBC and to find out just how many is very difficult. They appear to hidden entities but in plain sight. Exposing the minefield may just be beyond my capabilities.
Companies House lists the British Broadcasting Corporation has a royal charter company and simply tells you to contact the company for further information. It holds no other information.
My initial investigation of both BBC Studios and BBC Global News revealed two different published accounts (see below).
The largest entity we have found to-date has been the BBC Commercial Holdings Limited, which appears to own three companies mentioned.
But then of course there is more :-
- The most horrifying find was the BBC Children in Need appears to be set up as a private limited company, and not a charity. The company has 12 directors and Peter Ranyard (take note of that name) is the secretary.
- BBC Comedy Productions is a company owned by BBC Studios with 3 directors. In 2017 Peter Ranyard ceased to become a director in 2017.
- BBC Children’s Productions is company owned by BBC Commercial Holdings with directors, one of which is Peter Ranyard.
- BBC Club Sports and Leisure Limited appears to be separate to the BBC cooperation but has 5 directors most of which appear to be employed the BBC.
- BBC News is classed as a dormant company with the secretary being Peter Ranyard again.
There are far more companies associated either directly or indirectly. BBC Worldwide, BBC Studios Distribution, BBC Studios Corporate Services and BBC Worldwide Music are to name but a few. As I have previously said I have only scratched the surface.
What is clear, is the frequency of appointment and resignation of directors is far beyond any normal company. Each and everyone of the companies, that I have listed, have had multiple changes in director personnel over the last few years.
Who is Peter Ranyard? Well according to the BBC he is the Director of Corporate Legal and he provides legal advice to the BBC on major legal and regulatory matters. He is on the declared earners at around £190k. I can’t really understand why a lawyer seems to have his fingers in the majority of slices of pie of the BBC.
The Accounts Mis-Match
Now earlier I mentioned the different accounts published for BBC Studios and BBC Global News. I will try to address these here. But first I want to draw your attention to the accounts published by BBC Commercial Holdings Ltd.
The first thing, you will notice is the awful quality of image below. This is not down to me at Cancel Your License. Maybe it is is Companies House or maybe it is the BBC, but it does it not seem very strange a multi-billion pound company has a dodgy photocopied set of published accounts?
The 2018 accounts mention revenue/sales figures of £1.236bn for BBC Studios and £109m for BBC Global News.
For BBC Studios, this separate report found in their media section mentions only £424m in revenue. A difference of £808m???
Whilst for BBC Global News, their companies published separate accounts mention £48m turnover. A difference of £61m.
Now Yes I am not an accountant and I’m sure some BBC legal or financial expert could explain the differences away, maybe either Mr Peter Ranyard himself. But it doesn’t like right and usually there is no smoke without fire!
The Ultimate Betrayal
Now the BBC try to claim they need our TV license money to be able to survive. In fact, they show in 2018 that £3.8bn of the £5bn they had incoming was from TV license fees. Out of that £3.8bn, 655m was paid by the government as a subsidy to the over 75’s not having to pay a license. The government have phased out that subsidy and in response the BBC have decided to charge the over 75’s.
I have seen reports suggesting that the TV license numbers are dramatically going down. One such report suggested that over 600k people had canceled last year. This is simply untrue! The TV license authorities own figures show that there has been a continual rise from 24.9m licenses in 2009 to 25.8m in 2018. In the year 2019 the number of licenses only dropped by 80k.
I have touched upon actors salaries, I have scraped the surface on the accounting practices, I have unraveled the tip of an iceberg in respect of the appointed directors and I have mentioned the betrayal to the over 75’s but there is a lot more to this. I haven’t even mentioned the high paid officials salaries etc, of which there are many more than I would have expected.
The whole of the BBC seems to covered in a shroud that is difficult to unravel. But the fact is money is being wasted, a number of directors (such as Peter Ranyard) and companies are being moved around like the BBC is playing its own game of musical chairs and the figures do not add up. The only reasonable reason for such activity is what I would politely call creative accounting.
Murmurings of discontent of been happening for years, but the effect on the TV license figures has not occurred. It really is time for a concerted campaign to cancel your license.
Let’s make the BBC stand up and be counted. Let’s hit them where hit hurts! Let’s stop the unbiased news reporting and let’s ensure they at least deliver an impartial public service, which is in their charter.
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