In a week dominated by the Sachsgate affair, it’s no surprise the Sunday papers have taken a look at the BBC through a critical lens.

This morning the BBC’s director-general Mark Thompson told The Andrew Marr Show Jonathan Ross would be keeping his job, although he described his three-month suspension as a “final warning”. Thompson went on to defend his £816,000 annual salary:

I get paid significantly less than my opposite numbers in ITV and Channel 4. I took a pay cut. People are happy to do that because of the creative challenges.

No doubt he had in mind the News of the World’s splash when he said that. The NotW used a simple Freedom of Information request to get details of the BBC’s top 50 salaries – all of whom earn more than Gordon Brown’s relatively modest £190,000 a year.

The story’s strapline on page 4 sums up the paper’s thrust: “For £14.3m [the aggregate of the salaries] we could employ 677 nurses, 695 teachers, 540 firemen or 596 coppers.. but what DO we get? 50 money-grabbing BBC fat cats!”

The Sunday Times had the same table of stats showing the Corporation’s top earners but didn’t deem it as newsworthy, stashing it away on page 13 as part of a double page spread on the fallout from Sachsgate. Instead the paper led in with comments from a source close to Cabinet minister Andy Burnham suggesting the BBC should “tackle its salary culture”.

The Daily Telegraph quoted a senior Tory source saying the Conservatives would force the Beeb to cuts its licence fee by £6, effectively returning £800 million to viewers in a year. The source tells The Telegraph the Tories would “rein in the overweening ambitions of the BBC” which, in spending huge amounts of money on the likes of Ross, was “acting as if it were Manchester United buying Ronaldo”.

Zeituni Onyango

On the other side of the Atlantic, a real auntie has been giving Barack Obama an unwelcome distraction.

According to The New York Times, Obama had no idea the 56-year-old Kenyan relative he affectionately referred to as “Auntie Zeituni” in his memoir was living with illegal immigant status in Boston.

She made small donations to his campaign amounting to $260 which David Axelrod has said will be refunded.

In today’s Observer, Paul Harris and Gabby Hinsliff remark: “Illegal immigration is a political minefield in US politics and the story could be a vote-losing headache for Obama.”

With a matter of days to go until America’s next president is sworn in, all indicators are pointing to an Obama victory. Like Tony Blair in 1997, he is playing this down. Several commentators have hoped this won’t result in an overly cautious first term as it did for New Labour.

On another note, Andrew Rawnsley thinks David Cameron is quietly keeping his fingers crossed for a Democrat win.

Finally, in today’s Telegraph, Philip Sherwell and Tim Shipman report that if elected Obama will face an early test from Islamic terrorists, who have threatened to test the new president’s mettle. There is a great piece in this quarter’s Granta Magazine that ties in with the ongoing threat from within presented by extremists. Unfortunately you can’t get it online but I’m planning a longer blog piece with some of the higlights.

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