Britain's Media Regulator Collects £1.6m Payoff from NTL

26 February 2003

Redundancy can be good news. Not perhaps if you are a staffer at AOL’s Dulles, Virginia, headquarters; or Grey Worldwide’s London office where over one fifth of the workforce are to lose their jobs.

But in the deep-pile power purlieu of recently bankrupt cable operator NTL (where any number with less than four trailing zeros is petty cash), it is bingo time!

As Stephen Carter – former NTL managing director in the UK and recently appointed chief executive of Britain's media and telecoms regulator Ofcom – knows to the tuneful fluttering of £1.6 million ($2.52m; €2.34m) in negotiable currency.

In view of subsequent events it may be presumed that Carter (38) did not mention this trifling sum to his political masters. Or if he did, it was an uncharacteristic act of political folly for trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt to launch a Department of Trade & Industry inquiry into excessive payoffs to executives at the helm of companies in financial trouble. This worthy initiative came just fourteen days after she ratified Carter’s appointment.

Details of his windfall were not made public in the UK but discreetly released earlier this month in a mandatory filing by NTL to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

When Carter starts work at Ofcom next Monday at an annual salary of £350,000 he becomes one of the UK’s wealthiest public servants. Perhaps he will be standing his new colleagues a celebratory round.

A lawyer by training, Carter joined NTL in October 2000 from the London office of J Walter Thompson where he was managing director. Neither he nor Ofcom would comment on NTL's largesse.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff