BBC spends £193.6m on talent pay bill

BBC

Public television organisation the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) spent £193.6 million on hiring talent in 2016-2017, compared to £198.3 million in 2015-2016.

Its BBC annual report and accounts 2016-17 also showed that the employee wage bill has increased for the organisation’s 21,271 staff members, rising from £990 million in 2016 to £1 billion in 2017. Total remuneration, including pension, restructuring, and social security costs, increased from £1.3 billion to £1.4 billion. This includes employees across the PSB Group, BBC Worldwide, other commercial businesses incorporated within the BBC, but excludes agency and freelance staff.

An annex to the annual report, BBC pay disclosures July 2017, details individuals at the BBC who are paid more than £150,000 from license fee revenue in each financial year. The organisation is required to publish this information on an annual basis under the terms of its Royal Charter.

Presenter Chris Evans is listed as the highest paid on-air talent at the BBC, earning between £2,200,000 and £2,249,999. Presenters Claudia Winkleman and Alex Jones are the highest paid women, earning £450,000-£499,999 and £400,000-£449,999, respectively. Casualty actors Derek Thompson and Amanda Mealing are the highest paid actors at the BBC, earning between £350,000 and £399,999, and £250,000 and £299,999 respectively.

Tony Hall, director general at the BBC, said: “Of the 43,000 talent contracts with the BBC last year, less than a quarter of 1% were paid more than £150,000.

“The BBC produces some of the nation’s most loved television and radio and the most trusted news, while operating in a competitive market with the likes of Sky, ITV, Netflix and Amazon. It is widely acknowledged that on the whole the BBC pays less than its competitors while delivering high-quality and award-winning content.

“We have significantly reduced the total bill spent on paying talent, down again this year by 2.5%. The bill for top talent is down 10% year on year, and down by a quarter over the last five years. The amount we pay the very highest earners has dropped by 40% across the same period. At the same time, there has been significant cost inflation across the industry, so that BBC has made savings in an environment where costs are significantly up.

“However, the great majority of the public say that they want the BBC to try to have the best talent on its programmes. The BBC does not exist in a market on its own where it can set the market rates. If we are to give the public what they want, then we have to pay for those great presenters and stars. The public agree.

“The BBC has led the way on transparency, which is unique in the media market, publishing salaries of senior managers earning over £150,000 since 2009, and numbers of talent in pay bands since 2010. It is our aim to pay senior managers less than the market rate, and those at the top of the organisation are paid less than half of what their commercial rivals receive.

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“On gender and diversity, the BBC is more diverse than the broadcasting industry and the Civil Service. We have set the most stretching targets in the industry for on-air diversity and we’ve made progress, but we recognise there is more to do and we are pushing further and faster than any other broadcaster.

“At the moment, of the talent earning over £150,000, two thirds are men and one third are women. We’ve set a clear target for 2020: we want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women. And it’s already having an impact. If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60% are women and nearly a fifth come from a BAME background. Meeting our goal on this is going to have a profound impact not just on the BBC, but the whole media industry. It’s going to change the market for talent in this country.”