BBC Rich List 2020: £37.5m bumper bill for BBC bosses

For immediate release


  • BBC stars and executives are both receiving mega-salaries, with senior executives costing a total of £37.5 million each year, and enjoying perks including drivers and four star spa hotels.

  • Analysis shows the median salary of a BBC employee is 83 per cent higher than the median salary across the UK. 

  • The huge cost of BBC salaries is deeply unfair on pensioners and hard-pressed taxpayers, who are fed up of being forced to pay the licence fee. 


Research from the TaxPayers' Alliance, launched jointly with campaign group Defund the BBC, has revealed the cost of the top paid BBC executives is running into the tens of millions, alongside the staggering salaries paid to BBC stars. 

BBC bosses enjoyed pay and perks on public money, including a complimentary car and driver for former director general Tony Hall and a stay at a four star spa hotel in Venice for a BBC drama chief. The average salary for a senior BBC exec was £148,221. Median earnings at the BBC were £45,500 last year - 83 per cent higher than median earnings across the UK (£24,897). This was also double median earnings in the North East of England (£22,594).

With the licence fee now being imposed on the over-75s, and a covid-induced recession hitting hard pressed taxpayers, these bumper BBC salaries are deeply unfair. 




Key Findings:

  • The 253 senior leaders at the BBC were paid £148,221 each on average, costing a total of £37.5 million

  • The highest earning executive in 2019-20 was former director general Tony Hall. He received a total of £471,000 in salary and taxable benefits, including a car and driver.

  • Median earnings across the BBC were £45,500 in 2019-20. This is double median earnings in the North East of England and 83 per cent higher than median earnings across the UK (£24,897).

  • Piers Wenger (controller, drama commissioning) was the second highest paid senior staff member not on the executive committee receiving £272,500. He also claimed £130 on a 4-star spa hotel in Venice which has 68 different treatments. He also expensed £6,597 on a return flight to Los Angeles.

  • Only 7 of both the 20 top-paid executives and BBC stars were women, despite the BBC promising to tackle the gender pay gap. 


John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

“Bumper pay for bloated backroom bosses and salary surges for loaded luvvies both fly in the face of ratepayers facing economic ruin.

“These BBC pay packets and pointless perks are picked from the pockets of pensioners and poor taxpayers, who are fed up of forking out for the licence fee under pain of imprisonment. 

“It’s high time we axed the TV tax, introduced a subscription service and stopped taxpayers’ money going to these media millionaires.”

Rebecca Ryan, campaign director of Defund the BBC, said:

“This report sheds light on a shocking level of bloat and waste at the BBC that the British public will be appalled by.

“Up and down the country Britons are scraping together enough money to pay their licence fee out of fear; knowing that the vulnerable are disproportionately targeted.

“It is time to make the BBC stand on its own two feet so that those who simply want to watch Sky Sports, for example, are not forced to pay for this largesse.”


TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

Danielle Boxall
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. The TaxPayers' Alliance has launched the Axe the Tax campaign, calling for an end to the television licence fee.
  4. More information about Defund the BBC is available here.
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