BBC salaries will fall during the economic crisis, according to the corporation’s director-general Mark Thompson.
He told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show yesterday that the days of mega-bucks deals for the UK’s brightest talent were coming to an end.
The huge sums paid to BBC employees are back in the spotlight in the wake of last week’s furore over the lewd phone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.
Ross is on a controversial three-year, £6m a year deal, while Brand earned a reported £200,000 a year for his weekly radio show.
Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information inquiry by the News of the World found that 50 executives were paid more than the prime minister’s salary of £189,994.
Thompson said: “I think we are heading towards a period where it is probably the case that we will be able to secure the best entertainment talent for less than we have been able to do in the past few years.”
He added that he was paid “significantly less” than his opposite numbers at ITV and Channel 4, as were on-air presenters and other senior executives.
“Of course compared to many people’s average pay, [senior BBC employees’ salaries] seem very substantial, but the public also want the controller of BBC1 to be the best possible person for that job,” said Thompson.