Loadsamoney BBC: Bumper pay rises for BBC’s top brass… as it threatens to scrap free TV for viewers over 75

Some of the BBC’s highest-paid executives have been awarded ‘staggering’ annual wage rises of up to 30 per cent.

  • A newspaper identified six bosses with largest inflation-busting rises
  • Biggest winner has seen his pay packet swell from £250,000 to £325,000
  • Revelations about pay come as programme budgets across BBC are slashed
  • MP Ian Lucas said the broadcaster needed to take ‘a long hard look at itself’

The hikes, worth up to £75,000 a year, come as the Corporation slashes programme budgets and threatens to scrap free TV licences for the over-75s.

One newspaper has identified the six bosses who have enjoyed the largest inflation-busting rises, which have been branded ‘scandalous’ by MPs.

The biggest winner has seen his pay packet swell from £250,000 to £325,000 a year – an increase of 30 per cent. 

The biggest pay rise went to Ken MacQuarrie, director of nations and regions, whose 30 per cent hike took his pay to £325,000
Director of content Charlotte Moore’s salary has gone from £325,000 to £370,000 – a 13.8 per cent rise. In the previous year, her salary had climbed from £295,000
Among other senior figures to be awarded significant pay rises was chief spin doctor John Shield, the BBC’s head of communications, who enjoyed a pay rise of £25,000, or 12.8 per cent, to £220,000

Other senior figures have achieved double-digit percentage increases at a time when the average annual pay rise in the UK is just 3.3 per cent.

Labour MP Ian Lucas said the broadcaster needed to take ‘a long hard look at itself’ over the salaries.

The number of BBC managers earning more than £150,000 has also increased to 102, despite promises to bring the figure down.

A year ago, the National Audit Office questioned why the number of managers being paid that much had risen from 89 to 98 in the previous five years.

The revelations about executive pay come as programme budgets across the BBC are being slashed. But the broadcaster spends only just over half of its income directly making programmes.

A total of £2.8 billion was set aside from its annual £5 billion income for content on TV, radio and the internet, according to its latest annual report. 

The remainder is swallowed up by ‘operating costs’ such as the upkeep of an ostentatious property portfolio, broadcasting the programmes, and collecting the licence fee.

Director-General Tony Hall says the BBC has ‘lost great programmes’ because of budget cuts, with financial factors blamed for decisions such as the axeing of period drama Versailles, losing the rights to Formula 1 racing and Six Nations rugby, the poaching of Great British Bake Off by Channel 4 and the downgrading of BBC Three to an online-only channel.

Some star presenters have also accepted voluntary pay cuts, including newsreader Huw Edwards, who reportedly took a £120,000 hit towards closing the gender pay gap within the Corporation.

The TV licence is currently £150.50 a year, although over-75s get it free. The Corporation is considering cutting the concession, introduced in 2001, as its cost is set to soar to more than £740 million a year. 

The cost of providing free licences to about 4.5million homes is currently split with the Government, with the BBC paying an increased share every year. But that arrangement expires in 2020.

The biggest pay rise went to Ken MacQuarrie, director of nations and regions, whose 30 per cent hike took his pay to £325,000. 

His salary had already jumped from £185,000 to £250,000 the previous year when he was promoted from controller of BBC Scotland.

Last year, Mr MacQuarrie also claimed £30,000 in expenses – the largest claims of the BBC’s 99 highest-paid executives.

Among other senior figures to be awarded significant pay rises was chief spin doctor John Shield, the BBC’s head of communications, who enjoyed a pay rise of £25,000, or 12.8 per cent, to £220,000.

Director of content Charlotte Moore’s salary has gone from £325,000 to £370,000 – a 13.8 per cent rise. In the previous year, her salary had climbed from £295,000.

James Purnell, the former Labour Culture Secretary who is now director of radio and education, had a £20,000 rise – 6.8 per cent – to £315,000. 

Peter Ranyard, head of the commercial legal department, now earns £180,000, a 15 per cent rise. 

And Gavin Allen, controller of daily news programmes, enjoyed an 11.5 per cent pay rise from £143,500 to £160,000.

The BBC has also hired new staff at eye-watering salaries, including the appointment of chief customer officer Kerris Bright from Virgin Media on £360,000 a year.

Mr Lucas, a Labour member of the Digital Sport, Culture and Media Select Committee, condemned the pay rises as ‘staggering’. ‘Licence payers will be completely mystified that the levels of pay seem to be increasing in the way they are,’ he said.

James Purnell, the former Labour Culture Secretary who is now director of radio and education, had a £20,000 rise – 6.8 per cent – to £315,000

‘People are very fed up with the disparity between their own lives and these pay levels. The over-75s concession is a difficult one for the BBC, but they are making it much harder for themselves by giving their senior managers massive hikes in already very high salaries.’

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen added: ‘These scandalous pay rises will only confirm what the hard-pressed licence fee payer already knows – that there’s never been any austerity at the BBC. 

The BBC enjoys every benefit of a private company, while enjoying the security of being funded by the taxpayer.’

Funding for the BBC’s UK services has shrunk by 20 per cent since 2010, leading to a £700 million budget cut. It has a target to slash another £700 million off its annual bill by 2022.

But last week, the BBC was heavily criticised by MPs over a project to rebuild the EastEnders set, after it was revealed to be £27million over budget.

The BBC said: ‘We have halved the number of senior managers since 2009/10, with the cost reduced by £38 million. It’s well known that the BBC pays less than the private sector but we still need to attract and retain the right talent to create the very best programmes and services for licence fee payers.

‘Where people take on significant extra responsibilities or make an exceptional contribution to the business, it’s recognised in their pay, just like at other organisations.

‘For example, Ken MacQuarrie has joined the board and taken on the English Regions division, James Purnell has a bigger job with wider responsibilities and John Shield has joined the executive committee.’