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BBC bonuses culled amid profit slide

THE BBC&rsquo;s commercial arm reported a 27 per cent drop in full-year profit yesterday, as the broadcaster said it had suspended all executive director bonuses until further notice.<br /><br />BBC Worldwide said pre-tax profit slid to &pound;85.7m in the year ending March 2009, despite revenue hitting &pound;1bn for the first time.<br /><br />The company blamed the drop on one-off costs relating to the collapse of Woolworths &ndash; with which it had a joint distributing arm &ndash; and the blocking by the Competition Commission of Kangaroo, its planned online video joint venture with ITV and Channel 4.<br /><br />The BBC &ndash; which came under fire last month when it revealed that 27 senior staff earned nearly &pound;200,000 per year &ndash; said bonuses for its top ten executives would not be reintroduced without the approval of the BBC Trust.<br /><br />But BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said that the pay review will have to balance the need to retain top executives, whilst meeting the BBC&rsquo;s &ldquo;financial challenges&rdquo;.<br /><br />The annual report revealed that BBC director general Mark Thompson was paid &pound;834,000 in the year ending March 2009, while chief financial officer Zarin Patel earned &pound;429,000.<br /><br />The BBC also reiterated its opposition to &ldquo;top-slicing&rdquo; the licence fee to fund public broadcasting initiatives, such as local news production for other channels, as proposed in the government&rsquo;s Digital Britain report last month.<br /><br />Earlier yesterday, the new culture secretary Ben Bradshaw launched a fresh attack on Lyons and Thompson, saying that their resistance to sharing some of the &pound;3.6bn license fee with rival broadcasters was &ldquo;self-defeating&rdquo; and &ldquo;wrong-headed&rdquo;.