I do hope that yesterday's release of expenses of senior BBC staff is not going to lead to another feeding frenzy by the UK media. But a Guardian webpage headline Lavish meals, fancy hotels and a Cessna suggested it might well do so. So, before this gets out of control, let's try to introduce some common sense. The most important point is that the BBC is not the House of Commons; it is a media organisation competing with other TV, radio, press, film and internet sources to maintain the reputation as the world's finest broadcaster it has built up over more than seventy years. The rules of this highly competitive and cut-throat game are not rules made by the BBC - they are written by a global media industry in which high-spending on talent of all kinds is the bottom line. But if, say, the BBC is to be required to follow civil service rules on expenses because it is using the public's money provided by the licence fee system, then the only outcome will be a loss of cutting edge and audiences. The BBC has an additional responsibility to run its affairs in a decent and responsible way. Thus when Director General Mark Thompson realised that he must break an Italian family holiday to take charge of the almost out-of-control furore over the Sachsgate row, he hired a Cessna -- and was right to do so. But I think 100 pounds for a bottle of champagne for Bruce Forsyth's 80th birthday was mean.
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