This week in TV land Jeremy Clarkson seems untouchable, while another BBC employee loses his job for a similar offence; and execs at Virgin Media are popping the Champagne, whilst Graham Norton and those at Channel 4 are tightening their belts.
More reasons why Clarkson seems ‘bullet proof’
So despite loud complaints two weeks ago, Jeremy Clarkson kept his job. But more reasons are emerging as to why (other than his friendship with the powerful Chipping Norton set) the Beeb is so reluctant to let him go. The BBC faces having to hand Clarkson two separate pay-offs if he leaves over the Top Gear race row, it has emerged as the presenter continued to openly mock his employers. The presenter is paid around £1 million a year to present the BBC Two motoring show. But he also has a second seven-figure contract with BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the corporation which sells Top Gear abroad and generates income from live shows, DVDs and associated merchandise. The deal runs until September 2015. According to employment lawyers, the corporation could have to pay Clarkson twice over if it was to force him out, at a time when pay-offs for departing BBC staff have been described as a national scandal.
The unusual contract arrangement could explain why the BBC has failed to take any action against the presenter for appearing to use the n-word while reciting the nursery rhyme ‘Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe’ during a Top Gear out-take. There is also the matter of Clarkson’s popularity with viewers. Top Gear is watched in 214 countries and makes more revenue for the BBC than any other programme.
BBC Radio DJ resigns after playing the ‘n-word’ on air.
Meanwhile, in complete contrast, a veteran BBC local radio DJ David Lowe has resigned after broadcasting a 1932 version of ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On‘ that contained the N-word. The second verse of the song, recorded by the UK dance band Ambrose and his Orchestra, features the line: “He’s been tanning [n-word] out in Timbuktu, now he’s coming back to do the same to you.” Later versions of the song omit the offensive word.
Lowe said he had no idea the word was in the song when he played it during his Sunday night show, but was forced to resign after 32 years with the BBC, after a listener complained and his offer of an on-air apology was rejected. Lowe said he had been compelled to pay the ultimate price, blaming “today’s unforgiving obsession with political correctness”.
I guess, unlike Clarkson’s Top Gear, Lowe’s Singers and Swingers show on BBC Radio Devon just doesn’t generate enough money for the Beeb, to make him worth protecting.
Virgin Media add more customers.
Virgin Media has nudged back into revenue growth, adding 15,000 paying television customers and more than 40,000 broadband subscribers. The results mark a return to form for Virgin, after revenues had dipped 1.1% last year during its traditionally strong Christmas quarter. The drop raised fears that the company might go into reverse under its new ownership, but total residential customers have doubled compared to the same period last year, with 21,200 added in the first quarter.
“Virgin Media’s positive momentum as part of Liberty Global continues,” said the chief executive, Tom Mockridge. “We have added twice as many customers as the same period a year ago.”
Over a third of Virgin’s customers are now on superfast speeds of 60 Megabits a second or more. Demand for internet at peak times is up 60% year on year, as households connect growing numbers of devices to their home Wi-Fi – the number connecting five or more devices has doubled in a year to around 880,000.
Wonder if it had anything to do with those Usain Bolt ads?
Recovery? What recovery?
Although George Osborne is constantly telling us that the economy is in recovery, many of us are yet to feel the benefit, including some top TV talent.
BBC star Graham Norton earned £2.3m in fees and salary last year, a 10% fall, for services including fronting BBC1’s The Graham Norton Show and BBC Radio 2’s Saturday morning programme.
Norton took home the payments for “presenter fees, production fees and royalties” from his production company So Television in the year to the end of July 2013. In total Norton received £2.33m, down by around £280,000 on the year before when he received £2.61m.
Meanwhile at Channel 4 bonus pay more than halved last year, from £480,000 to £221,000, for its top executives. This is because the broadcaster failed to hit a range of performance-based targets, such as for audience levels.
The broadcaster’s total pay and bonus bill still hit £2.2m for its five top executives, but the payout is down on the £2.6m in 2012, when three of the top five executives took home six-figure bonuses thanks to the success of the London 2012 Paralympics.
So while you’re digging down the back of the sofa in the hope of finding some loose change, spare a thought for Graham and co.
And finally for The Funniest Thing I’ve Seen On-Line This Week.
In a Saturday Night Live spoof of the Matt Damon movie The Adjustment Bureau, Spiderman actor Andrew Garfield shows just what happens when you dare to not bow down to Queen B.
That’s all for this week, but if you just can’t hang on for another seven days to get your next fix of TV industry news, check our facebook page for daily updates.