Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

BBC reveals total pay given to radio and TV stars

Jonathan Ross
The BBC has not disclosed individual salaries

The BBC has revealed the total amount it paid to its performers who broadcast on radio and television.

The corporation paid £229m to artists, presenters, musicians and other contributors for the year up to March 2009 - 6.56% of the licence fee.

Of that figure, £70m went to the top earners whose salaries topped £100,000.

The BBC has not disclosed individual salaries, saying they are commercially confidential, despite continued pressure from MPs.

There were around 300,000 contracts signed with performers, the majority of which were under £1,000.

BBC pay graphic

"Artists, presenters, musicians and other contributors are central to the BBC's ability to deliver high quality and distinctive programming and we know that audiences expect to see and hear them on BBC programmes," said Caroline Thomson, the BBC's chief operating officer.

"The BBC engages some of the greatest performers in the world across television and radio, and also nurtures and develops people that will be at the heart of our programmes in the future. They add to the credibility, expertise and creativity of the BBC."

BBC chief operating officer: "We're committed to bringing this figure down"

The total amount paid by the BBC to artists, presenters, musicians and other contributors will now be published each year in its annual report.

Politicians of all parties had urged the corporation to reveal what it pays its stars, and cut what it pays its managers. Many performers have taken a pay cut, top executives' pay has been published and frozen, and bonuses have been withdrawn.

The news comes as the BBC also published the business-related expenses of its 107 most senior decision-makers for the period July to September 2009.

A total of £188,000 was claimed in overall expenses - up from £175,000 the previous quarter.

A BBC spokesman said the increase was attributed to the cyclical nature of the business where a higher spend on flights was made for annual conferences and LA screenings.

Torin Douglas
Torin Douglas, Media correspondent

BBC pay remains a hot topic.

Politicians of all parties have urged the Corporation to reveal what it pays its stars and cut what it pays its managers. The BBC has responded, if not as fully as its critics would wish.

Many people still think the BBC's paying too much, particular now commercial rivals like ITV and Channel 4 face financial problems.

Publishing the figure for total performers' pay - £229m - is the latest step in a process of disclosure. Executives' pay and expenses are now published every three months on the BBC website - and today their gifts and hospitality have been published for the first time.

But despite sustained pressure from MPs, the BBC won't reveal what it pays individual performers. It says everyone has some right to privacy - and to do so would also put it at a disadvantage in negotiations, since commercial rivals don't have to reveal what they pay.

Included in the details were flights made by BBC director general Mark Thompson and future media and technology director Erik Huggers to Seoul, Korea, to meet with technology companies.

The BBC said the flights - at a cost of £5,600 and £7,500 respectively - were business class fares in line with BBC policy which allows the extra expense if an employee is travelling long haul and expected to work immediately upon arrival.

Mr Huggers was also among those claiming the most for taxi journeys, spending £4,750 in the quarter, while Vision director Jana Bennett spent £2,500.

The BBC said two taxi bills Mr Huggers claimed for £538 and £627 were for the cost of hiring a car plus driver during a trip to the US.

For the first time, the BBC has also published details of the gifts and hospitality the senior managers declared covering the period April to September 2009.

Mr Thompson declared that he attended the British Grand Prix with his son as guests of Formula One.

He was also given a digital camera from Panasonic as part of a visit to Korea and Japan, which he donated to Children In Need.

However, the majority of senior managers did not declare any gifts or hospitality.

Meanwhile, the BBC has also agreed to reveal licence fee-funded payments to some of its leading sports presenters to a House of Commons spending watchdog but not to the public.

Jeremy Peat, a BBC trustee, said he would provide a breakdown of the costs for major events in confidence to the Public Accounts Committee.

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