Outgoing BBC Trust chair condemns government decision to name highest-paid stars

William Turvill
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New BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead Arrives For First Day At Work
Rona Fairhead announced her resignation from the BBC Trust last night (Source: Getty)

The outgoing head of the BBC Trust has slammed the government’s decision to force the corporation to disclose celebrity pay details.

Rona Fairhead, who announced she would be stepping down earlier this week following an intervention from new Prime Minister Theresa May, said she was “disappointed” with the change.

Read more: Former BBC Trust vice-chair condemns "brutal" treatment of Rona Fairhead

She added: “We don’t believe this is in the long-term interests of licence fee payers.”

New culture secretary Karen Bradley today confirmed in the House of Commons that the BBC will be required to name stars who are paid more than £150,000.

Bradley said:

The BBC produces world class programming that is admired and respected by millions around the world. The BBC’s next charter will help it adapt to the changing digital world and continue to thrive into the future.

We have made considerable progress since the publication of the white paper and resolved a number of important areas with the BBC, which go further in the key areas of transparency, fairness and securing the BBC's independence.

Licence fee payers have a right to know where their money goes. By making the BBC more transparent it will help deliver savings that can then be invested in even more great programmes.

Read more: Government set to make BBC reveal pay packets of stars on more than £150k

Fairhead has been chair of the regulation body since October 2014. With the Trust due to be scrapped, she was set, with the approval of the previous government under David Cameron, to take on the same position at the newly created BBC unitary board.

But new Prime Minister Theresa May is said to have been not "overly impressed" with Cameron's handling of the appointment and wanted Fairhead to re-apply for the role.

Fairhead, a former chair and chief executive of the Financial Times Group, announced her departure from the Trust on Tuesday night.

BBC director general Tony Hall said:

Our position on talent pay has not changed and all major broadcasters have questioned the merit of the proposal. The BBC is already incredibly transparent and we publish what we spend on talent pay - a bill which has fallen in recent years. The BBC operates in a competitive market and this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love. Ultimately, the BBC should be judged on the quality of its programmes.

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