The BBC should have to disclose the salaries of all those it pays more than the Prime Minister, a group of influential MPs has ruled.
But the corporation is not happy about the suggestion, claiming it would represent a “poacher’s charters” that would not be in the interest of licence fee payers.
Currently, while the corporation publishes details of executive pay, the salaries of those categorised as “talent” – including performers, presenters and producers – are kept in the dark.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) white paper, setting out details of the BBC’s next royal charter, suggested talent earning £450,000 or more should have their salaries published.
But the DCMS select committee has today suggested this threshold should be lowered to £143,000 – slightly below the £143,462 earned by Theresa May as Prime Minister.
The committee report said: “In a world of agents and widespread online gossip, we do not accept that this level of confidentiality is necessary to retain talent, and we are very conscious of the fact that the BBC’s performers, like management, are ultimately remunerated by the licence fee payer.”
Damian Collins MP, acting chair of the committee, said: “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.”
A BBC spokesman said: “We welcome the committee’s recognition of the quality of BBC output and the importance of the BBC remaining free from undue political interference.
“The BBC has led the way in transparency by publishing details of senior manager salaries over £150,000, and already publishes more information about talent pay than other broadcasters. We cut our bill for talent pay by £8m last year, but creating a poacher’s charter by publishing the salaries of individual presenters and actors wouldn’t be in the interests of licence fee payers who say they want the best talent on the BBC. We believe the proposal in the white paper is a sensible compromise.”