BBC reveals top stars’ pay

In tandem with publishing its Annual Report for 2016/17, the BBC has disclosed the amounts paid to staff and talent over £150,000 (€170,000) from the licence fee in the last financial year.

Under the terms of its new Charter, the BBC is required to publish an annual report for each financial year from the Remuneration Committee with the names of all senior executives of the BBC paid more than £150,000 from licence fee revenue in a financial year. These are set out in these pages in bands of £50,000. It is also required to list the names of other people working for the BBC, paid more than £150,000 from licence fee revenue in a financial year, set out in pay bands.

According to Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, of the 43,000 talent contracts with the BBC last year, less than a quarter of one per cent were paid more than £150,000.

“The BBC produces some of the nation’s most loved television and radio and the most trusted news, while operating in a competitive market with the likes of Sky, ITV, Netflix and Amazon. It is widely acknowledged that on the whole the BBC pays less than its competitors while delivering high-quality and award-winning content,” he noted.

“We have significantly reduced the total bill spent on paying talent, down again this year by 2.5 per cent. The bill for top talent is down 10 per cent year on year, and down by a quarter over the last five years. The amount we pay the very highest earners has dropped by 40 per cent across the same period. At the same time, there has been significant cost inflation across the industry, so that BBC has made savings in an environment where costs are significantly up,” he advised.

“However, the great majority of the public say that they want the BBC to try to have the best talent on its programmes. The BBC does not exist in a market on its own where it can set the market rates. If we are to give the public what they want, then we have to pay for those great presenters and stars. The public agree,” he stated.

“New research shows that four out of five members of the public think that the BBC should be able to try to get the highest quality presenters, actors and reporters for its programmes and services – even if it means paying similar amounts to other broadcasters,” he said.

According to Hall, the BBC’s aim is to pay senior managers less than the market rate, “and those at the top of the organisation are paid less than half of what their commercial rivals receive,” he advised .

He contended that people should judge the BBC on the quality of the programmes and services they get for their 40p a day. “The public tells us they want the best stars on the BBC, and in a highly competitive market, that costs, even if we do on the whole pay less than our rivals. The reality is that the BBC today costs less in real terms than it did 20 years ago. But now we offer four times as many TV channels, twice as many national radio stations, plus our video-on-demand service – iPlayer – and everything we do online. All for less than three pounds a week. In fact, for every hour that anyone consumes the BBC, they’re paying an average of less than seven pence – brilliant value compared to any other form of entertainment,” he argued.

“The BBC is hugely proud of our content and shows – and of those who make and appear on them. The UK has a world-class broadcaster in the BBC. We have made huge strides on efficiency in recent years with overheads down to industry-leading levels: just five per cent of our total costs – better than most in the regulated private sector – to make sure the vast majority of our spending goes directly into the programmes and services the public love. Part of delivering that great content is the talent who appear in those programmes, who present them, or who interview and hold the powerful to account on behalf of the public. The public backs having great people working for the BBC. That’s because they get extraordinary value,” he concluded.

Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans made between £2.2 million and £2.25 million in 2016/2017, while Claudia Winkleman is the BBC’s highest-paid female celebrity, earning between £450,000 and £500,000. Hall defended Evans’ pay, suggesting he was presenting “the most popular show on the most popular radio network in Europe”.

Amol Rajan, the BBC’s media editor, warned that disclosing the salaries would prove inflationary. “Those on the list will think to themselves: ‘Why is that inferior presenter getting paid more than me?’ – and will demand a pay rise,” he suggested.

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