BBC presenters face massive pay cuts
And the recession means that stars such as Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathan Ross can’t threaten to leave
Jeremy Clarkson, Terry Wogan and many of the BBC's biggest names face pay cuts of up to 40 per cent. Mark Thompson, the corporation's director-general, broke the news to a room full of 'talent', including Bruce Forsyth, Lenny Henry, Jo Brand, Mariella Frostrup and John Inverdale, at a "very grim" meeting on Monday night.
The proposed reductions in presenters' salaries would take 25 per cent off anyone earning over £100,000, and even more off top-earners like Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton and Chris Moyles.
Thompson's move follows the finding of a Public Affairs Committee that BBC Radio shows can cost up to six times the amount spent by their commercial rivals, because of the amount paid to star names. There has also been widespread public condemnation of Ross's lucrative three-year contract, thought to be in the region of £16.9 million, or nearly £6m a year. He has been told to expect a pay cut of 50 per cent.
"Talent fees are not excluded from the economic pressures faced across the organisation and these will be reflected in our ongoing negotiations," a BBC spokesman said.
Not surprisingly, the cuts have proved unpopular with the presenters and their agents. One agent told the Guardian: "I find it disgusting. The BBC is taking it out on the talent, while its executives have made the mistakes.
"They messed up over Ross, they have bad property problems, and they have spread themselves too thinly over too many services. And now they are taking it out on the middle ranks - people at the top of their game earning £100,000-£250,000 who have commitments and mortgages like everyone else.
"They have the talent over a barrel. The person hiring can do what they want, and currently there is little demand for anyone's services anywhere else. An entertainment star might [normally] threaten to go to ITV, but not in the present climate."
However, one star conceded to the Guardian that they didn't expect much sympathy. "It seems churlish to start moaning," the unnamed entertainer said. "Many people will take the line: 'Keep me on, I'll take a pay cut to keep up my public profile.' The thing is, no one is on the breadline." ·
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