Culture secretary Karen Bradley has confirmed plans to make the BBC publish the pay of 109 stars who earn more than £150,000 ($198,000) a year.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Bradley said improved transparency will mean that licence fee payers, who fund the BBC to the tune of £3.7 billion ($4.9 million) a year, know what they’re getting for their cash.
“It is vital that the people paying for the BBC — its viewers and listeners — know where their money is going and that it is being well spent,” she said.
“Latest data shows that 109 stars currently earn more than that [£150,000] figure, which is just above the prime minister’s salary. The measure rightly brings the BBC in line with the rest of the public sector, where civil servants above the threshold are named.”
Bradley wants the BBC to begin publishing the pay of stars, including journalists Laura Kuenssberg, Nick Robinson, and Huw Edwards, in its annual report in 2017. Their pay packets will be disclosed in bands of £50,000 ($66,000).
The culture secretary will confirm the plans in the House of Commons on Thursday morning, when the government publishes the BBC’s draft royal charter. The charter will be the BBC’s operating agreement for the next 11 years.
Bradley also confirmed that the BBC’s independence will be protected by allowing it to appoint the majority of non-executive directors to its powerful new governing board.
The original plan was that the government would have this power, but the BBC has complained bitterly that it will result in an “erosion” of its independence.
“We have an honest disagreement with the government on this. I do not believe that the appointments proposals for the new unitary board are yet right,” BBC director general Tony Hall said in May.
In her closing remarks in the Telegraph, Bradley said: “The BBC is one of this country’s greatest achievements and greatest treasures. These reforms ensure it will continue to thrive at home and abroad for many years to come.”
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