BBC must reveal what it pays staff and performers

The BBC must publish more detailed information on the pay of all its staff and performers, a government committee has said.

The House of Commons committee for Culture, Media and Sport said it welcomed the move by the broadcaster to increase transparency in pay, but warned it was “long overdue” and called on the broadcasting giant to go further.

In November, the BBC began publishing details on a quarterly basis outlining the salaries and expenses for 107 senior staff, including 11 HR chiefs.

Last month, the BBC also disclosed that it had paid £229m to its performers in the year to 31 March 2009, to be reported each year in the broadcaster’s annual report.

But the committee has now called for the BBC to publish a breakdown of headcount by salary band, not just for senior managers but for all employees and hired performers, and to disclose the number of individuals in each payment band for performers.

It also urged the BBC to break down the figure for performers’ pay into more pay bands to make it clear how many were earning between £250,000 and £5m. The highest pay band that the BBC currently reports is ‘more than £150,000’.

But the committee warned: “We do not expect to see any entries in the £5m plus category.”

In its <A href="”>report on the BBC’s annual report for 2008-09, the latest report, the committee added: “The reward packages of the director-general [Mark Thompson] and senior management of the BBC are seen to be out of step with the current economic climate and the need for public sector pay restraint.”

To address this, it recommended that the broadcaster’s remuneration policy for top earners should be benchmarked not just with the private sector but also with public sector senior management pay structures.

The committee disagreed with evidence submitted by the BBC’s chairman, Michael Lyons, that the £800,000 paid to Thompson was in line with what they would have to pay someone new if the director-general position became vacant, and that other public broadcasters paid higher salaries.

The committee report said: “Qualified applicants might be willing to undertake the job for substantially less than the current incumbent in light of the prestige, public service ethos and potential benefits in post-BBC employment.”

Channel 4’s 2008 annual report showed the former chief executive Andy Duncan’s total earnings in that year were £683,000.

But the committee did welcome the BBC’s announcement in October 2009 that it would commit to cutting the senior management pay bill by 25% by the end of July 2013.

The broadcaster has also pledged that senior management salaries would be frozen until at least August 2011, while the salaries of executive directors, members of the BBC Direction Group and the director-general would be frozen for a further three years on top of that.

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