BBC squirms after more leaks of 'excessive' pay

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The Independent Online

The BBC is facing calls to make details of top presenters' pay public and to exercise restraint over how much it pays, following a series of leaks of confidential salary information.

Radio 2 presenters' salaries were the latest to be revealed yesterday, following the disclosure last week of Radio 1 DJs' pay.

Revealing how much nine of the best-known names earn, the Daily Mirror reported that the station spent more than £3m a year on employing its big-name presenters.

The veteran breakfast host Terry Wogan is Radio 2's best-paid presenter, according to the newspaper, earning £800,000 a year.

On a per-minute basis, Jonathan Ross is reported to earn even more than Wogan, with an annual salary of £530,000 for his Saturday morning radio show, or £56.62 a minute, compared to Wogan's rate of £25.64 a minute. Chris Evans is said to have negotiated £540,000 a year for taking over the weekday drive-time show from Johnnie Walker. Steve Wright, who presents five three-hour shows a week, is reportedly on £440,000 a year.

The BBC said it was "urgently" investigating how the Mirror obtained the confidential information. It follows similar leaks to The Sun, which revealed last week that the Radio 1 breakfast DJ Chris Moyles was the station's top earner on £630,000, and last month published details of how much stars of EastEnders were paid.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "We are taking this very seriously. We can't confirm if it is a leak, because we don't know where the information comes from. We are looking into it as a matter of urgency." In the past, the BBC has refused demands to reveal how much it pays presenters, arguing that to hire and retain the best talent it must pay market rates and keep details of salaries secret.

But Luke Crawley, the BBC supervisory official for the broadcasting union Bectu, said: "The BBC could and should exercise restraint in the amount it pays. The BBC is the biggest employer of talent, therefore, to a certain extent it can dictate market rates."

John Beyer, director of the broadcasting lobby group Mediawatch UK, said: "In this age of openness ... the BBC should be transparent about wages they pay. These figures certainly do seem excessive." The BBC refused to comment on speculation that an insider had leaked the salary information.

What they earn

TERRY WOGAN (breakfast show, Monday to Friday) - £800,000

JONATHAN ROSS (Saturday morning show) - £530,000

MARK RADCLIFFE (weeknights at 10.30pm): £197,000

KEN BRUCE (mid-morning show Monday to Friday): £194,000

MICHAEL PARKINSON (Sunday Supplement): £115,000

JANICE LONG (midnight to 3am five days a week): £137,000

BOB HARRIS (three shows a week) : £96,000

CHRIS EVANS (drive-time show, Monday to Friday) - £540,000

STEVE WRIGHT (afternoon show, Monday to Friday) - £440,000