Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Public want more BBC pay transparency according to poll

Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC
Mark Thomspon will be questioned on Newsnight on Thursday

A majority of people think there should be more transparency about the salaries of those working for the BBC, a poll conducted for BBC Newsnight suggests.

Seventy percent of people questioned said the salaries and expenses of BBC senior managers should be made public.

Sixty four percent said stars earning over a certain amount should face a similar move, and 59% said the pay of all presenters should be made public.

The BBC has refused to reveal stars' pay saying it could trigger an exodus.

One thousand UK adults were questioned between 20-22 November 2009 for the poll, which was conducted by ComRes.

Earning more than PM

Sixty four percent of those questioned said that the salary and pay of all BBC managers should be made public.

Earlier this month, the salaries of the top 100 decision-makers at the BBC were published online.

The details, which included business-related expenses, were revealed in line with plans aimed at more openness set out by BBC Director General Mark Thompson in July.

Jonathan Ross
Leading stars such as Jonathan Ross have been warned of pay cuts

The disclosures showed that 27 BBC executives earned more than the prime minister's £195,000 salary - led by Mr Thompson on £647,000 a year.

The BBC said at the time that in organising and publishing the data it had gone beyond any other public body.

However, it has refused to reveal what it pays its best-known, and best-paid, on-screen personalities.

Mr Thompson has said that the pay of top talent - amounting to about 2% of the licence fee - should not be made public, because of the risk of a "talent drain".

Fifty-nine percent of those questioned for the poll said that the salaries and expenses of all presenters 59% should be made public.

In June, BBC stars including Bruce Forsyth and Sir Terry Wogan were warned at a regular briefing meeting to expect their salaries to be slashed as part of the corporation's plan to save money.

According to the Newsnight poll, the BBC continues to enjoy high public standing, with 76% of respondents saying that it is an institution to be proud of, versus 22% who disagreed.


However, 60% of those questioned said that the BBC had "dumbed down or lowered quality", versus 35% who said it had not.

When asked whether the BBC is trustworthy, 62% agreed that it was, whereas 32% disagreed.

However, this trustworthiness rating has dropped since September of this year when 69% said that they believed the BBC was trustworthy in a poll conducted for The Guardian by ICM.

The poll suggests that in recent months there has also been a fall in whether people believe that the BBC provides good value for money, with 56% saying it does, compared to 63% in September's ICM poll.

The poll also suggests declining support for the licence fee, with 38% saying it should be the main source of BBC funding, compared with 43% in September.

And it suggests growing support for funding through advertising, with 30% saying it should be the corporation's main source of funds, versus 24% in September 2009.

Watch a Newsnight special on the BBC, including an interview with Director General Mark Thompson, on Thursday 26 November 2009 at 10.30pm on BBC Two, then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.

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