Trust to take second look at talent pay

Graham Norton BBC stars cost the Corporation around £200m a year

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The BBC Trust is to look again at how much the BBC pays its stars.

It will begin a review later this spring to see whether the Corporation is getting value for money from its presenters and performers.

The BBC spends around £200m a year on tv and radio talent, with the last annual report stating that 14 big names earn more than £500,000 a year.

Graham Norton, Jeremy Paxman, Fiona Bruce and Gary Lineker are thought to be among the BBC's highest paid stars.

The trust will examine how the BBC recruits and develops talent and how much it pays for talent compared to other broadcasters. It will judge whether the BBC has struck the right balance between reining in costs and holding on to its most precious stars.

The trust last reviewed the issue in 2008/09, triggered by press and public outrage over what they regarded as excessive payments to the likes of Jonathan Ross.

Expect the best

The BBC said on Tuesday that it had reduced its talent pay bill by 13% since the last study.

'We know that our audiences expect the best talent to appear on the BBC. This review will be an opportunity to re-examine the market to make sure that we continue to attract and retain quality on-air talent whilst ensuring value for money for licence fee payers.'

A trust spokesman said: 'Since we assessed talent pay five years ago, the BBC has successfully cut the amount it spends on its performers and presenters. But no market stays the same and it is time to look at this again.

'We are always seeking to balance saving money with ensuring the BBC has the range and quality of on-air and on-screen talent that audiences expect. This review will inform our work with the BBC and help ensure we have the right approach in place.'

The review was revealed in the trust's work plan for the coming year, which was published on Tuesday.

It includes a 'major review' of the BBC's editorial guidelines, on which subject it plans to consult the public.

The National Audit Office, meanwhile, will report back to the trust after it completes a value for money study of the BBC's estate, after the sale of buildings like Television Centre and the creation of new centres such as those in Salford, London W1 and Glasgow.

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