Name highest paid BBC stars, demands Trust chairman

  • @tompeck

BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons has outlined a series of tough new demands for the Corporation, such as revealing details about the pay of presenters and the names of stars receiving the biggest salaries.

He also called for the publication of details of all senior managers' pay without exception and for the BBC to open up its books to an efficiency review by the National Audit Office.

The measures were revealed at a Voice of the Listener and Viewer seminar, in which Lyons called on the Trust to BBC to "up the pace" and take "additional action" beyond what's been set out in director general Mark Thompson's Strategy Review.

The recommendations come before the Trust publishes its initial conclusions on Thompson's Strategy Review in several months time.

Lyons has asked the BBC to scrutinise its budgets "with as much rigour as the rest of the public sector" and has asked Thompson to "conduct a rapid exercise and to report back immediately after the summer break."

Lyons added: "I want to give a pledge to all licence fee payers today that when we come to the next licence fee negotiations the Trust will enter those talks representing licence fee payers' interests alone.

"We will not seek to maximise the BBC's take from the licence fee. We will seek only what is necessary for the BBC to fulfil its public purposes as set out in the Charter".

Lyons also acknowledged concerns about whether the licence fee is being used effectively in relation to how much senior managers and on screen talent are being paid. He has requested the Executive publish details of all public service senior managers' pay, without exception. This will be set out in bands, alongside a clear costed summary of the overall structure of grades and salaries.

Lyons said it is also asking for publication of presenters' and other top talent pay in the narrower bands recommended by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, including the details of the number of people in each band.

"The information will generally be presented in aggregate – that is, anonymously. However, I do believe we should release the names of those who receive the biggest incomes from the BBC," stated Lyons

"You might try to characterise this move as a change of mind. It's true that we've been listening carefully to licence fee payers and we believe that this is one of a small number of areas where we need to recapture public confidence.

"On balance, the BBC should be clearer about who the highest paid individuals are, both on screen and off".