BBC executives accepted bonuses of up to 25% of their salaries last year, despite the threat of redundancy looming over thousands of BBC workers.
Mark Thompson waived his right to a bonus
Director general Mark Thompson waived his right to a bonus, saying "it just wouldn't have felt right".
Broadcasting unions accused the BBC of "corporate greed" amid the cutbacks.
But BBC chairman Michael Grade said the corporation planned to cut the bonus scheme back next year, so no executive would be able to claim more than 10%.
Unions called on the executives, including Mr Thompson's deputy Mark Byford, to follow the director general's lead and decline their bonuses.
The BBC's governors, led by Mr Grade, announced potential bonuses would, in future, be cut from 30% of an executive's salary to 10%.
Director of television Jana Bennett received a £63,000 bonus
"We concluded that it was important to retain some element of performance-related bonus, but that 30% was too high for a public sector organisation," he said.
Last year Mr Thompson announced plans to shed 20% of the BBC's workforce over the next three years to cut costs. The corporation said it will reinvest the money in new programmes.
The bonus figures were revealed in the BBC's annual report and accounts for the year 2004-2005, published on Tuesday.
Despite Mr Thompson waiving his bonus, other senior executives picked up, on average, a bonus of 24.9% of their salaries - up 2% on last year.
Deputy director general Mark Byford was among those who picked up a bonus. He received £92,000 on top of his £351,000 salary and benefits of £14,000.
New media director Ashley Highfield (above) earned a basic salary of £245,000, plus a bonus of £57,000.
Salary with benefits: £320,000
Director of television Jana Bennett topped up her £255,000 basic salary with a bonus of £63,000.
Salary with benefits: £334,000
Director of radio and music Jenny Abramsky received £58,000 on top of a basic salary of £255,000.
Salary with benefits: £304,000
Stephen Dando, head of the human resources division BBC People, received £65,000 on top of his £245,000 salary.
Salary with benefits: £313,000
Source: BBC annual report
Mr Thompson told staff in an e-mail: "As the architect of our programme which is only just getting under way, and which has led to a great deal of uncertainty for many of you, I thought I was in a different position from the other directors."
But the director general, who last year earned £459,000, said he "strongly recommended" that the other executives should accept their bonuses.
And Mr Grade said: "It's important for licence payers that we attract and retain the best talent that we can.
"We are in competition with some very wealthy competitors in the private sector."
He added that the bonuses were at the bottom end of the scale compared with the commercial sector.
'Slap in the face'
Gerry Morrissey, assistant general secretary of broadcasting workers union Bectu, said the executives should have followed Mr Thompson's lead.
"We feel that the BBC management are already getting the rate for the job so where is the justification for huge bonuses?"
"People should not be rewarded for putting thousands of people out of work."
The National Union of Journalists said the bonuses were a "slap in the face" for the 5,000 BBC workers who faced job uncertainty.
The annual report also covered financial and audience performance, public value, the charter review, and an assessment of the BBC's broadcast services.
In it, the governors called for fewer repeats on BBC television channels and for digital channels to provide better value for money.
The BBC also reported a deficit of £188m - down £61m on the previous year.