BBC spent ₤54 on top talent

The BBC
spent £54m on presenters earning £150,000 or more in the 12 months to the end
of March 2009, the corporation revealed today.

This
group, which accounted for 1.55% of total BBC licence fee income during that
year, is understood to include big-name stars including Jonathan Ross, Jeremy
Paxman, Fiona Bruce and Graham Norton.

However,
the BBC stuck to its guns and refused to reveal what individual talent is paid,
having previously argued that this is commercially sensitive information. The
BBC also declined to reveal how many individuals earned £150,000 or more in the
12-month period.

In total
the BBC’s talent costs for the year were £229m, 6.56% of its £3.49bn licence
fee income, paid to artists, presenters, musicians and other contributors
across its TV, radio and online services. The money was spread across about
300,000 individual contracts for the 12 months in question.

The
biggest chunk of money, £115m, or 3.29% of the licence fee, went to individuals
earning less than £50,000 from BBC work.

The BBC
BBC chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, said: “Artists, presenters,
musicians and other contributors are central to the BBC’s ability to deliver
high quality and distinctive programming and we know that audiences expect to
see and hear them on BBC programmes.

“The
BBC engages some of the greatest performers in the world across television and
radio, and also nurtures and develops people that will be at the heart of our
programmes in the future. They add to the credibility, expertise and creativity
of the BBC.”

Today’s
publication of headline talent cost figures came as the BBC also put out the
second quarterly details of expenses for the corporation’s 107 most senior
executives, covering July to September 2009. Details of this group’s gifts and
hospitality register for the six months to the end of September were also
published.

Mark
Thompson, the BBC director general, and his wife had days out last year at
Glyndebourne, the Chelsea flower show, the royal
box at Ascot and the women’s tennis final at Wimbledon.
Thompson also went to the British Grand Prix, with his son, as a guest of
Formula One.

The total
claimed by the BBC’s 107 senior staff between July and September was
£188,284.98, up from £174,650.42 the previous quarter.

Total
spent on taxis and hospitality was down, but there was a big increase in the
amount claimed for flights and a smaller increase in hotel expenditure. The BBC
attributed this to the cost of flights to the annual LA screenings. The new
figures also include travel to the annual MediaGuardian Edinburgh International
Television Festival, which took place at the end of August.

Overall,
expenditure on taxis was £39,029.72, down from £46,110.25 the previous month.