BBC Worldwide ignores ban on executive bonuses

BBC Worldwide will pay its senior managers a bonus this year, ignoring a ban on executives’ bonuses and calls for pay restraint.

The BBC’s director-general, Mark Thompson, has ruled out bonuses or salary rises for 640 senior managers until 2012. The BBC Trust has also frozen the pay of its executive board until August 2013.

But BBC Worldwide is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC and negotiates separate pay agreements for senior staff. Its chief executive, John Smith, has now confirmed bonuses will be paid this year.

The company sells hit shows and related merchandise in the UK and overseas, and is due to unveil record pre-tax profits of more than £140m.

Smith told the Guardian all bonuses due to staff would be paid.

“I’m very clear on this,” he said. “I’d expect people who’ve performed according to the profit targets to get the bonus they deserve and that’s everyone in the company – top to bottom.

“There are performance-related bonuses. If they’ve performed in accordance with the bonus scheme, yes, they’ll get the bonus.”

BBC Worldwide does not provide details of how many staff are paid bonuses or reveal the total amount they receive.

Smith is entitled to a bonus of up to £240,000 in addition to his £480,000 annual salary, although it is not known how large it will be. He received a bonus of £69,000 in the financial year to the end of March 2009, when profits at BBC Worldwide fell to £103m, and £88,000 the previous year, when the company made £117.7m.

Last week, the BBC revealed it would award a pay rise to almost three-quarters of its staff.

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