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true pay of beeb's top stars; TV production firms 'hide' extra earnings PS.


BBC chiefs have unveiled the latest official list of the Corporation's highest-earning stars, with football presenter Gary Lineker at the top on PS1.75million.

But things would look very different if the list included the fees for programmes made by independent production companies, including the Beeb's own commercial arm BBC Studios.

According to Companies House, Graham Norton was paid PS5.2million through his TV company So Television in 2017, mostly for fronting his Friday night chat show on BBC1.

His full earnings would easily make him the highest earner, but he is only third on the official list on PS610,000. The Beeb is hiding millions more from the list of its top earners using the loophole.

The BBC defended BBC Studios being treated in the same way as other independent producers.

A spokesman said: "It's a fully commercial business. It's not underpinned by the licence fee."

He added: "On that basis, you could ask Sky, Netflix and everyone else to publish salaries."

But Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen condemned the Corporation.

He said: "I'm not surprised the BBC are trying to hide what they're paying their so-called talent by putting these huge salaries through BBC Studios, especially given they're now hitting the over-75s for a PS500million tax hike by abandoning their pledge to maintain the concessional licence fee.

"The BBC wants every protection of being funded by the taxpayer and every privilege of being a privately-run business. Anyone who is being paid by the taxpayer should have their salary disclosed. They can't have it both ways."

Reporting the annual accounts for 2018-19, Beeb bosses revealed yesterday the gender pay gap is slowly closing.

Of those in the top 10, Claudia Winkleman's salary would rise by about PS400,000 if it included her role as Strictly Come Dancing host, putting her on PS770,000. Zoe Ball's listed pay of around PS370,000 only covers six weeks of her role on Radio 2's Breakfast show.

The true figure for her radio gig is thought to be PS1.2million. She also gets an extra PS300,000 for presenting BBC2 Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two, which isn't listed because it is produced by BBC Studios.

The same production company also makes Strictly - meaning host Tess Daly's PS400,000 salary is not on the list.

Alex Jones is not listed either but takes home about PS450,000 for her role on The One Show.

Co-host Matt Baker earns about PS500,000 for his work on the programme and on Countryfile.

Other shows that do not have to declare their stars' earnings because they are made by BBC Studios include Top Gear, Doctor Who, EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City.

Soap stars have previously been among the biggest listed earners.

Now the salaries of actors such as Keeley Hawes, who starred in BBC1's Bodyguard, are also hidden.

The show is made by World Productions, owned by ITV Studios which also makes BBC series Poldark, meaning Aidan Turner's salary is also secret. Chris Evans was second on the earnings list despite leaving the BBC at the end of 2018.

Of those listed last year, the biggest rises went to Radio 2's Jo Whiley, who jumps around PS100,000 to PS270,000 and sports presenter Jason Mohammad (up PS95,000). News anchor George Alagiah was up PS25,000 to PS315,000.

Among those going the other way was John Humphrys, down PS110,000.

It emerged the total number of stars earning more than PS150,000 had risen to 75 from 64 last year, with the pay bill rising by PS11million to PS159million.

The BBC, which received more than PS4.9billion in licence fees and other income, said that was because it had invested PS239million more in content over the past year, IN CHARGE BBC chief Tony Hall pointing out the average salary for those on the list was down by six per cent with the cost of the top 10 on the list falling by nearly 10 per cent.

But the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The BBC needs to explain why it increased the on-air pay and total staffing costs while saying it can't fund free TV licences for over-75s."

BBC director-general Lord Hall said the amount paid to stars was now a smaller proportion of total programming costs, accounting for 0.5per cent of the BBC budget.

He added: "Our talent bill is coming down.

"The BBC has arguably never mattered more to Britain or done more for the country."

Figures showed BBC Studios ploughed PS243million back into the BBC's coffers, after a year in which profits grew 51 per cent from to PS159million


RICH Alex and Matt don't make official list

in IN CHARGE BBC chief Tony Hall
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 3, 2019
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