Channel 4, ITV, and Channel 5 have sided with the BBC in the debate over whether the public broadcaster should publish the pay of its biggest stars.
The BBC has agreed to disclose the salaries of its on-air talent if they earn more than £450,000, but it is under political pressure to go further.
MPs in the Culture, Media and Sport Committee want to cut this transparency threshold to £143,000, which is equivalent to the annual earnings of British Prime Minister Theresa May.
This would flush out the salaries of stars including Gary Lineker, Graham Norton and “The Great British Bake Off” judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, BBC director of content Charlotte Moore said increased transparency could actually force talent pay up and is not in the interests of the licence fee payers, who fund the corporation.
ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 agree. ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said “it’s a waste of everyone’s time,” adding it is “a mean-spirited, nosey way of looking at things.”
“Where does it get you?” asked Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt. “It puts the BBC on backfoot in a way that’s unhelpful for licence fee payers.”
Ben Frow, the director of programmes at Viacom-owned Channel 5, added: “I pay my licence fee and I trust that the people at the BBC spend my money in the best way they see fit to give me the content that will most reward me. I don’t need to know who earns this and who earns that.”
The comments echo Moore’s. The BBC executive said on Monday:
“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 a production company I don’t know what the deal is. It’s a difficult, complex area. We know that our audience expects to have the best talent on BBC1. We also know we can’t pay as much as other broadcasters.”
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