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Patten ready to cut BBC boss levels

The BBC could be set to axe a whole raft of senior managers after its chairman Lord Patten said he wants to make cuts.

The former governor of Hong Kong praised the corporation for becoming more efficient but said viewers do not expect BBC bosses to be paid massive salaries and he wants to see a smaller, more accountable group in charge.

Speaking at the Prix Italia in Turnin, he said: "There are still too many senior managers, around 2.5% of the workforce at the last count. I'd like to see this cut to more like 1% by 2015 at the latest so as to create a smaller group of people more clearly accountable for spending the licence fee.

"It has been, and will continue to be, a painful process, but it is necessary if we are to secure public confidence."

Lord Patten arrived at the BBC two years ago. He found the corporation full of "talented and innovative people".

"I also found too many bosses who worked hard but were paid too much and presided over processes and relationships of labyrinthine and often unnecessary complexity," he said.

"The relentless and admirable advance of transparency in UK public life, underpinned by freedom of information legislation, was flushing that out. The BBC was being asked questions about pay, perks and public money which it found uncomfortable to answer.

"Licence fee payers don't expect the BBC to pay sky-high commercial rewards to people who work for a public service. They do expect the BBC to deliver the highest quality programmes and services. It needs - and indeed it has - excellent people to do that. The challenge is to balance these demands in the right way.

"To its credit, the BBC has understood and acted on this. Executive pay is falling. Reward for the director general has been cut by almost 50%. Pensions have been reformed. Private health care is being phased out. But there is further to go."

The BBC has had a torrid time in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and news of executives gifted huge pay-offs.

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