The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had previously decided that only BBC staff earning over £450,000 should have their salaries published, a decision that we at the TaxPayers' Alliance were quick to condemn as not going far enough.
However yesterday a report by the DCMS Committee suggested that this figure should be lowered to £143 000, a little lower than the Prime Minister’s salary of £143,462, arguing that license fee payers have the right to know where their money is going. Acting committee chairman, Damian Collins MP, said it was 'disingenuous' for the BBC to claim it needs confidentiality purely just to prevent rival channels poaching talent:
'On the question of pay, the point is that all these salaries are paid by the licence fee payer, whether they are for broadcasters or BBC executives. Why should there be different rules for each? It’s disingenuous to say confidentiality is needed to prevent poaching when in general everyone in the industry knows what everyone else is getting paid. The threshold should be the same for both executives and talent, the salary of anyone getting paid more than the Prime Minister should be published.'
This is definitely a move in the right direction. In the past the Government offered no justification for allowing the BBC to escape the same scrutiny other public bodies are rightly exposed to. In other public organisations far greater detail is available on those receiving six-figure salaries and the BBC should be brought in line with these other organisations. Promoting proper transparency in this area will bring some much-needed clarity to all of those funding these pay deals.
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