BBC to suspend senior executives' bonuses

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The Independent Online

The BBC has suspended indefinitely bonuses for its top executives. Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body said: "We have already reached agreement that executive board bonus payments will be suspended until further notice and not re-introduced without the Trust's approval."

Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Sir Michael also warned that some salaries "appear too high", though he did not refer to anyone in particular, nor to the controversy surrounding the salaries paid to some of its biggest stars, most notably the £18m three-year contract struck with Jonathan Ross.

The BBC has already imposed a pay freeze on 400 managers earning £60,000 or more until July 2010 at the earliest. Across the rest of the corporation, bonuses have also been cancelled. It is trying to cut its costs and save £1.7bn between now and 2013.

However, the BBC Annual Report, to be published today, shows a further rise in the salary bill for its top 10 directors, after it rose by £708,000 – almost 17 per cent – to close to £5m last year. Mark Thompson, the director general, who earns £816,000, has never taken his bonus which would have been about £60,000 last year. In the same period the licence fee rose by 3 per cent to £131.50 and most BBC employees received a 4 per cent pay rise.

Last month, Mr Thompson held a meeting with some of the BBC's best-known names, including Bruce Forsyth, Lenny Henry and Sir Terry Wogan, and warned them to expect salary cuts.