Thompson defends BBC executive pay

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The Independent Online

Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, has defended the six-figure pay packets of some of its managers, after the corporation's former governor PD James said that the "extraordinarily large salaries" were "very difficult indeed to justify".

At the BBC 37 staff, excluding on-screen talent, earn more than the Prime Minister's salary of £198,000, and more than 300 are paid over £100,000. But Mr Thompson insisted that the salaries were necessary to prevent managers from defecting to the private sector.

Baroness James, guest-editing Radio 4's Today programme, told him it appeared that "somehow, the people doing the creative work don't receive this largesse; it seems to be a pay grade used for middle management and bureaucracy, which it is very difficult indeed to justify".

Mr Thompson said most top earners could attract higher salaries in the commercial sector. He said BBC1 controller Jay Hunt took a pay cut when she returned to the corporation from Five. "At a moment in broadcasting history where people can move very freely from the BBC to commercial broadcasters and back, the BBC has to bear in mind the external market," he said.

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