BBC external staff earnings: How journalists top up £200k+ salaries

Data: How BBC star journalists top up £200k+ salaries with payments from business and investment companies

BBC presenters took on a combined 95 external engagements in the first three months of 2021 according to data released by the corporation about external staff earnings.

Although the BBC did not disclose exactly how much each presenter was paid – only revealing if the engagement fee was greater or less than £5,000, – the total earned amount could be £230,000.

To arrive at this figure we assumed that engagements under £5,000 paid were an average of £1,000 (the BBC revealed that half of the lower-paid engagements were under this amount), while high-earning engagements paid an average of £10,000. The lack of data provided by the BBC means however, this is only a ball-park estimate.

BBC external staff earnings league table:

Topping the list of presenters taking on the most engagements in the quarter was Ben Hunte, the BBC’s first LGBT correspondent, who took on six commitments including at City University and advertising agency, Adam & Eve.

Former BBC North America Editor and current Radio 4 Today presenter Justin Webb and Belfast-based Mark Simpson were also among the journalists who made more than one outside appearances. Webb made the most higher tier appearances of anyone on the list at four.

A total of eighteen journalists took on more than one engagement in the first three months of the year, while the number of paid events undertaken by staff has increased month-on-month from ten in January to 55 in March.


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Among the presenters taking on outside work were some of the BBC’s highest earners including Emily Maitlis and Andrew Marr.

Since January, on-air presenters in current affairs, sports news and radio and senior leaders have had to declare earnings from paid external work. This includes public speaking engagements or corporate events.

Highest paid earner on the list, Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, was paid more than £5,000 for hosting an event for business law firm Mason Hayes and Curran.

Political journalist Marr received more than £5,000 for hosting an event at wealth manager Brewin Dolphin in March.

Webb has netted a combined minimum of £20,000 for engagements including speaking at CityWealth Magazine and hosting an event at financial trade body the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.

BBC breakfast host Dan Walker made two engagements paid at over £5,000 – including with wealth manager St James’ Place Management.

The publication of this register is part of the BBC’s impartiality efforts which has been a key theme for director-general Tim Davie.

Staff cannot take on external work without written approval from a divisional head of department.