BBC reveals top earners' pay

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's BBC published details of its top earners for the first time Tuesday, revealing that 19 of its stars are paid more than £500,000 despite recent funding cuts imposed by the government.)

In its annual report the corporation said there were two fewer people in the top pay bracket above 565,000 euros ($798,360) in the financial year to March 2011 than the previous year.

It spent £3.8 million less on top talent during the year, paying around £22 million to 19 stars whom the report did not name. In 2009/10 it had paid almost £26 million to 21 people in the same bracket.

BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten defended the corporation's decision not to honour an earlier pledge by his predecessor Michael Lyons to give more detail and name individuals paid more than £1 million.

Patten, who took over the post in May, said the corporation was not "hiding" anything and there was "no fundamental human right" for the public to know a celebrity's pay packet.

"If we were to insist on infringing data protection legislation I imagine more people would choose to be employed by independent producers, which would hardly produce the effect people want," he said.

The report groups together everyone earning between £500,000 and £5 million -- a move the BBC said was necessary for legal and commercial reasons.

BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, had his pay cut by 27 percent to £615,000.

The BBC increased the number of employees earning between £250,000 and £499,999 from 26 to 33, while those earning between £100,000 and £149,999 rose from 129 to 142.

A BBC spokeswoman told AFP it kept the pay of some employees in the higher brackets because it "was committed to providing output of the highest quality for its audiences."

British lawmakers called earlier this year for greater transparency on BBC pay.

In October the BBC warned of "difficult choices" after the government said the broadcaster would take over funding of the World Service from the foreign ministry.

The government at the time froze the BBC licence fee, which every British householder must pay to watch television and listen to radio, for six years at £145.50 a year.

© 2011 AFP

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