BBC on mission to discover: who leaked our stars' salaries?

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The Independent Online

The BBC is investigating how confidential salary details of some of its radio presenters and television stars were made public.

It was revealed yesterday that Radio 1 breakfast host Chris Moyles earns £630,000 a year, nine times as much as fellow DJ Pete Tong. An internal hunt is now on at the BBC to find out how The Sun newspaper obtained the information about the earnings of eight Radio 1 DJs.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "We are looking into it. The key thing here is we never discuss anyone's salary other than our top executives who have to disclose them in the annual report. It's confidential information.

"If someone has leaked these, we're not happy. They have appeared in The Sun and if they have appeared as the result of a leak, that's cause for concern."

Jo Whiley, who presents the mid-morning show, is named as the second highest-earning DJ on the station with a salary of £250,000 a year.

Sara Cox is believed to earn £200,000 a year for presenting two shows every weekend.

Edith Bowman and Colin Murray, who form a double act to host the weekday early afternoon slot on the station, are said to receive an annual salary of £175,000 and £170,000 respectively.

The Drivetime presenter Scott Mills and Zane Lowe, who fronts the Evening Session, are both said to earn £130,000 a year.

It is not the first time newspaper has printed confidential information about the salary of BBC employees. The same Sun reporter revealed salary details for members of the cast of EastEnders last month. That has lead to speculation that a disgruntled BBC employee with access to a computer database containing salary information has been leaking it to the press.

Ross Kemp, who plays Grant Mitchell, who recently returned to the soap opera, was reported to earn £380,000 a year, still considerably less than Moyles.

June Brown, the actress who plays Albert Square veteran Dot Cotton, was said to enjoy an annual salary of £370,000, while Barbara Windsor and Steve McFadden, who play two more members of the Mitchell clan, Phil and Peggy, were said to earn £360,000 a year each.

If the leaks are correct, Moyles's wage packet, paid for out of the licence fee, is a reflection of the increased audience he has brought to Radio 1. The DJ has even styled himself the "saviour of early morning radio".

According to the latest radio listening figures, Moyles added an extra 160,000 listeners to his show in the three months to January 2006 and has an overall audience of 6.6 million.

The breakfast host earns even more than the director general, Mark Thompson, whose total salary for 2005 was £459,000.

He is also on a higher wage than the head of BBC Radio, Jenny Abramsky, whose published salary last year was £304,000.

The salaries of BBC newsreaders came under scrutiny last year after senior journalists including John Humphrys and Andrew Marr questioned why they were paid so much for "reading an autocue".

In Ireland, the state broadcaster RTE was required to publish details of its presenters' salaries under Freedom of Information legislation, but the BBC's chairman, Michael Grade, rejected similar calls to disclose newsreaders' wages, saying it would make it virtually impossible to recruit freelance talent.

BBC salaries

Director General Mark Thompson £459,000

Chairman of Governors Michael Grade £96,000

Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles £630,000

Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley £250,000

Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox, left £200,000

Eastenders actor Ross Kemp £380,000

Eastenders actress June Brown £370,000