Editor's blog: £3m for Clarkson, £42m for CBeebies - how the BBC spends its money

There are some fascinating insights into how much each BBC channel costs, and how they're paid for, in the Annual Report. But should we be so obsessed with cost in public service broadcasting to begin with?

Dan Hancox
5 September 2012

BBC spending graphic - with thanks to The Guardian

We’d hate to be accused of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing at ourBeeb. On the contrary, over the last four months we’ve consistently focused on value over price – except when taking the BBC to task for spending £189,000 on a head-hunting firm to select the new Director General.

We recently recorded a great group discussion with Richard Eyre, ex of the BBC Board of Trustees and Director of the National Theatre (podcast coming very soon), in which he emphasised that the Beeb’s priority should be to stop counting the numbers – whether they are pounds sterling or viewing figures – and have confidence in its programme making first and foremost.

Several ex BBC grandees and film-makers, in fact, have said to me that the Beeb should stop trying to ape or chase ITV and Sky, stop playing the ratings game, stop making shows like The Voice when we already have X Factor, stop jostling for the biggest stars, and instead, confidently, plough its own furrough.

All this said, what are the costs of running the BBC? There is a fine summary of the recent BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2011/2012, on the Guardian Data Blog, here. The media attention with BBC spending is always on ‘the talent’, which at this point in time means Jeremy Clarkson’s salary going up to more than £3m a year for Top Gear, Gary Lineker and Graham Norton probably not far off that, and 16 stars altogether on more than £500,000 per year.

This seems far less interesting than the differing, changing spends on different channels. Did you know that we spent £37.2m on the red button last year? Or £9.3m on BBC Parliament? Did you know that Radio 4 costs more than Radio 1 and 2 put together? Or that BBC News is suffering substantial cuts, while CBBC is getting a funding increase? Have a delve through the data (at the Guardian summary above, or the full BBC Report is here) and let us know if there’s anything else that stands out to you.

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