Jeremy Vine slams BBC over its handling of salaries row

“The organisation seems to navigate by crashing into things. It does not seem to have rear mirrors to see what is coming up from behind.”

Jeremy Vine

Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine has criticised his BBC bosses for its handing of the row over its top earners.

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“How it did not spot the peril in the numbers it would have to publish and right the wrongs in the story that would explode is beyond me,” said Vine over the ensuing row over high salaries and a gender pay gap.

“The organisation seems to navigate by crashing into things. It does not seem to have rear mirrors to see what is coming up from behind,” the former Strictly Come Dancing contestant told the Sunday Times.

RadioTimes.com approached the BBC before the figures were released over suggestions that it would reveal a gender pay gap, but the Corporation rebuffed the suggestions saying that it “did not recognise the story”.

Vine, whose earnings were shown to top £700,000 when the figures were revealed last month, admitted that he was “a bit embarrassed” when his pay was revealed.

However he adds that the figure included his daily Radio 2 show, Eggheads, Points of View, Crimewatch, Panorama and the election: “Full disclosure as there is no separate Jeremy Vine company.”

This refers to anxieties that the salaries figure did not show the full picture as many BBC stars are paid off the books, either by independent production companies or the Corporation’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide.

Next year, BBC presenters are expected to be moved on to the accounts of its production arm BBC Studios which means that the figures of most of its stars earning more than £150,000 per year will not be published. However the move will have no impact on Radio and News presenters so those salaries will continue to be disclosed year-on-year.

Damian Collins, chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee said that the full picture of Corporation pay must be made public in the coming years.

He told the Edinburgh International Television Festival: “What would be unacceptable is if, next year, BBC Studios turned around and said, ‘All these people being paid on Strictly, we are not going to disclose their salaries because we are now an indie and we don’t have to.’

“If they earn over the threshold amount of money, whether by an independent production company or as a BBC member of staff, that information should be declared.

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“Take someone like David Dimbleby. As far as the licence fee payer is concerned, he is someone who works for the BBC presenting a flagship programme, yet what he earns is private because it is made by a production company and not by the BBC directly.”