When the BBC was forced to disclose the salaries of its top presenters earlier this summer the coverage focused on the huge wages paid to stars.
These included Chris Evans (more than £2.2m) and Gary Lineker (more than £1.75m) and Jeremy Vine (more than £700,000).
But the reaction of the BBC’s chief rival at ITV was decidedly different. The network’s head of entertainment Siobhan Greene thought that the Corporation had got its top talent on the “cheap”.
Asked what she first thought when she saw them published last July she was surprisingly candid.
“Honestly? I thought they were quite cheap actually,” she said. “I did. If you want me to be absolutely honest with you, that’s what I thought. I also felt sorry for them being put out there like that.”
The chair of her panel, Pointless presenter Richard Osman, pointed out that entertainment pay rates are “considerably higher at ITV than at the BBC”.
Greene agreed, but declined to reveal the salaries of its own stars, of which Ant and Dec are thought to be the highest paid.
The BBC’s controller of entertainment commissioning Kate Phillips also defended the BBC’s salary rates.
“Talent knows they can go to ITV and get bigger amounts. There’s no secret to that. It’s the creative freedom and breadth of work we can give them. People like Graham Norton have a great breadth. Dare I say it, it’s not always about the money.”
To which Osman said: “Yeah, right.”