The BBC published details of the pay of its 107 most senior managers today, revealing that 46 earn more than the Prime Minister.
The decision to go public about its top office salaries is a sign that the BBC is responding to demands that it be more open.
But visitors to its website may be disappointed to find that while they can learn a great deal about the pay and expenses claims of officials whose names mean little or nothing to the public, there is nothing about the pay packets of the on screen stars such as Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton, Jeremy Paxman, and the rest.
The highest paid of the 107 senior managers listed is the Director General, Mark Thompson, whose basic salary of £664,000 is three and a half times the £194,250 that Gordon Brown is paid. Mr Thompson's total pay packet last year was £834,000.
His expenses claims ranged from £647.50 for a two night stay at The Bellagio, the Las Vegas hotel featured in the George Clooney film Ocean’s Eleven, to 70p that he fed into a parking metre. Mr Thompson claimed for 48 parking metre charges in 58 days from 5 March to 1 May this year.
There was also some surprise today at the discovery that the controller of Radio 1, Andy Parfitt, claimed expenses after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief. He was one of the party who reached the 19,300 foot peak in March, along with Chris Moyles, Fearne Cotton, Gary Barlow and Cheryl Cole. Mr Parfitt, who is on a basic salary of £211,000, claimed £541.83 for 'specialist clothing' and other 'essentials' for the trip, and £26.20 for taxis to pick up his equipment,
A spokesman said: “Andy provided technical support to enable Chris (Moyles) to broadcast from the mountain each day. The specialist clothing was essential kit for the climb, taking into account the conditions that Andy would be facing."
Caroline Thomson, the corporation's chief operating officer, described the publication of the top salaries as "a significant move.” She added: "Today's launch is a direct response to the public, who have indicated that they would like more information about how the BBC is run in a way which marks a step change in openness, simplicity and accountability. We are meeting the spirit as well as the letter of the law."
Ms Thomson's salary is £333,000, and her expenses show that she claimed more than £1,500 for tax rides in one month, and more than £4,000 in three months. A BBC spokesman said Ms Thomson needed to travel extensively as part of her role.
"In London it can be quicker to go by taxi and she can also take calls, which she would not be able to do if she travelled by Tube or bus," he added.
Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed publication of the figures, but added: "They can't stop here. We must see a full breakdown of what the BBC pays their celebrity talent.”
The newly-released information can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/info/running/bbcstructure/index.shtml.Reuse content