Ross 'facing £4.5m pay cut'

Jonathan Ross faces a £4.5 million pay cut as part of the BBC's cost-cutting drive, it was reported today.

The corporation is planning to slash the presenter's reported £18 million three-year deal by a quarter if his contract is renewed, The Sun claimed.

Ross, whose output includes a Friday night BBC1 chat show and a Radio 2 Saturday morning show, is among a number of high-earning BBC stars who will see their salaries squeezed if they sign up for new contracts, the newspaper said.

Radio 2 presenter Sir Terry Wogan, who is believed to be on £800,000 a year, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, on a reported £630,000 a year, and presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Jeremy Paxman were also among those facing cuts.

The news will come as a further blow to Ross, who returned to work last week after serving a 12-week suspension for his part in broadcasting lewd calls he made with comedian Russell Brand to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

On his return, the presenter provoked further controversy with a joke about having sex with an elderly woman, sparking fresh calls for his dismissal.

Last night the BBC refused to comment on reports of pay cuts, saying it "never discusses the salaries of individuals".

Earlier, it emerged that thousands of BBC staff will not get bonuses this year and the salaries of hundreds of senior BBC managers have been frozen.

The measures are expected to lead to savings of more than £20 million.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the BBC said its presenters were likely to face pay cuts when their contracts came up for renewal, as in the current economic climate no-one would pay the kind of salaries that were being offered a year or two years ago.

"Whilst it's true to say that we are, of course, honouring existing contracts, our presenters are aware that when contracts fall due for renewal, the fee will be reduced," the spokesman said.

"We hugely value our talented presenters, but the fees we pay are influenced by market conditions, which have clearly changed.

"Naturally, those on the highest fees will be most affected by market conditions."