Viewers and licence fee payers have been let down by the Government’s decision to force the BBC to publish the salaries of its top stars, BBC content direct Charlotte Moore has warned.
Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, the executive who is in charge of all the BBC channels as well as iPlayer and BBC Sport said that the move would in fact drive up prices.
She said: “I genuinely think it’s not in the interests of licence fee payers that we do reveal the talent salaries. It will only drive talent fees up.
“I think we are already very transparent about a lot at the BBC, but talent fees is a really difficult one. The outcome could well be that talent fees will go up because if everybody knows what everybody is being paid they will go ‘I want to be paid that.’
“It’s not always up to the BBC what we pay someone. If they work for an indie and it’s a production company I don’t know what the deal is. It’s a difficult, complex area. We know that out audience expects to have the best talent on BBC1. We also know we can’t pay as much as other broadcasters.”
In the new charter the BBC has to publish the salaries of any talent earning more than £450,000 from the beginning of 2017 when it comes into force.
Gary Lineker, Chris Evans and Graham Norton are expected to be be among a group of BBC stars forced to reveal their salaries.
It is understood that David Cameron personally intervened to set the level for disclosure at £450,000 after the former culture secretary John Whittingdale suggested £150,000, a figure which would have included most of the BBC’s major news presenters.
Currently, the BBC discloses only limited information about the pay of on-screen talent but in 2015 it said there were nine people who appeared on air who were paid more than £500,000.
Moore also declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations over The Great British Bake Off and whether it will stay on the BBC.
Love Productions which makes the show is still talking the BBC about a new series deal, with ITV keen to acquire the format. If it does leave the BBC it would be off air for a year under a so-called cooling off clause in the current contract with the BBC.
“I would never comment on negotiations,” Moore said but added that she thought the show was “at the top of its game.”