BBC One is fighting an “ongoing battle” to develop and retain the talent that appeals to its wide variety of viewers, according to the man set to take over controlling the channel, Danny Cohen.
“We have already lost people to Channel 4, for instance; talent who we couldn’t compete with the deals for. It is getting much harder and there’s an ongoing battle with that,” he admitted last week, referring to the likely impact of the BBC’s looming budget cuts.
Cohen, who will handle a budget of £1.3 billion, said he expects the difficulty of recruiting top talent will only grow after the BBC publishes the results of its Delivering Quality First cost-saving plans this summer. The new channel controller, who himself commands a £250,000 a year salary, said: “The public want the best on the BBC because they pay for it. They want the best on-screen talent and programmes, and presumably the best people making them. That creates a conundrum when there’s pressure on salaries.”
The BBC has often courted controversy with the wages it offers its top stars. The likes of Jonathan Ross and Anne Robinson were subject to intense analysis by the media, and those that pay the license fee. Ross has now left the BBC, although not explicitly for financial reasons, and Robinson recently called it a day on her flagship show The Weakest Link.