Channel 4 has been forced to defend executive salaries after MPs claimed they were “grossly excessive”.
Chief executive Andy Duncan defended the salaries – where 80 of the 700 full-time staff earn more than £100,000 – as necessary to retain the top talent.
Duncan was challenged over pay at a House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee hearing yesterday, chaired by Conservative MP John Whittingdale.
Whittingdale told Duncan: “Many people would say 80 people paid more than £100,000 a year was grossly excessive.”
But Duncan said: “We need good people to do the job. We have had a very strong creative and commercial period.
“Having said that, and reflecting the difficult impact of the recession on Channel 4, certainly all of our better-paid people didn’t take a bonus last year and we have implemented a pay freeze.”
Duncan, who took home a total of £1.2m in 2007, agreed to take a 35% pay cut in March to help cut costs, which will see him earn less than £600,000.
Channel 4 director of television and content, Kevin Lygo, has also agreed to a 25% pay cut this year, taking his current basic salary of £772,000 to £575,000.
In December, the broadcaster announced it was to cut 200 jobs.
The challenge over pay at Channel 4 comes as Conservative MPs are forced into the spotlight over “excessive” expenses claims.