The argument for Jonathan Ross's £18 million is "you've got to pay the best for top talent".
It's not as simple as that. If Jonathan Ross had really wanted to go to ITV he would have gone. But, like anyone with any self-respect wishing to do a decent job in decent circumstances and not have it all chopped up with ads, he didn't. Natasha Kaplinsky has just gone to Five for a million. Best of luck. She took the money and the risk is she may not be heard of again.Personally, I don't care whether any of these people go or not. Nor do the British public. There's an endless supply of TV talent. The BBC holds all the cards in these negotiations because, even in reduced circumstances, it's got the only train set worth having. If you want to play with it, if you want to have a nice radio show and get rowed into the heart warming Christmas special and be on the cover of the Radio Times, this is the only place to be.
Broadcasting is not a level playing field in this country. That has its disadvantages. The fact that you get to call the bluff of a few over-confident agents is one of its glorious upsides.
Does anybody remember a bloke called Desmond Lynam? Great broadcaster. Iredeemably tarnished by ITV. Last seen selling Setanta in the back of a burger van.