BBC urged to disclose presenters' salaries after tabloid pay leaks

By Martin Stabe

The BBC is facing calls to reveal broadcasters’ salaries following tabloid reports of Radio 1 and Radio 2 DJs’ salaries.

The corporation is investigating leaks after The Sun last week claimed to have obtained the salaries of eight DJs on BBC Radio 1. The Daily Mirror followed up this week with reports of the salaries of Radio 2 DJs.

The tabloids’ reports suggested that Radio 2 presenter Terry Wogan earns £800,000 per year, while Radio 1 morning motormouth Chris Moyles garners £630,000 per year. A host of other radio personalities were also shown to be commanding six-figure incomes.

In a third story, The Sun on Wednesday reported that Jeremy Paxman earns £240,000 for presenting University Challenge, along with £800,000 for Newsnight.

The BBC believes that journalists’ salaries is information held for "journalistic, literary or artistic purposes" and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Since the FoI Act came into force last January, the corporation has routinely cited this derogation to bat away requests about the remuneration of high-profile broadcasters, including Paxman, John Humphrys, Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, Andrew Marr, Kirsty Wark, Gary Lineker and Michael Parkinson.

The corporation has also rejected requests, including one from Press Gazette, to reveal the salaries of its 25 highest-paid journalists without naming them.

But the precise scope of the BBC’s exposure to FoI requests is set to face its first serious legal challenge in June, when the Information Tribunal will rule on whether an internal report on the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict should be released.

In 2004, the Irish Information Commissioner, former journalist Emily O’Reilly, forced the Irish public-service broadcaster, RTÉ, to disclose the salaries of its 25 most highly paid presenters in response to requests under Ireland’s FoI legislation.

BBC GOVERNORS’ MEETINGS MINUTES

The BBC is facing two additional hearings before the Information Tribunal, both relating to requests for minutes of the BBC governors’

meeting on 28 January 2004, following the publication of the Hutton report, which led to the ousting of Greg Dyke as director general and Gavin Davies as chairman.

The two cases, which are being brought by The Guardian and by journalist Heather Brooke, challenge the BBC governors’ use of a catch-all exemption to the FoI Act to withhold the minutes of the meeting. No date has been set for the hearings.

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