Today’s big storyHow much should a BBC star earn before we’re told what’s in their pay packet? Should it be when it’s more than the prime minister’s £143,000, as Daily Politics presenter and Spectator presenter Andrew Neil has admitted he earns? Or more than the corporation’s director general on £450,000, a figure that in total earnings Clare Balding exceed last year? The former figure is preferred by the culture media and sport select committee, the latter is in the government’s white paper on the future of the BBC. Both are entirely symbolic.
Neil said that he would be happy with the disclosure of salaries but added that it should accompanied by information about how many appearances he makes. That raises a bigger and possibly more interesting question – once you know how much a star is paid, how do you know if they are they worth it?
Judging the quality of performances, or even the comparative workloads, will inevitably be subjective. But the one objective measure of a star’s worth is what people are willing to pay to employ them. The BBC has argued that making salaries public will create a poachers’ charter, pushing up the prices it has to pay for top talent. If that’s the case, the worth of those stars will shoot up, and so will the BBC’s pay bill.
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