Thursday 21 November 2019

BBC must lead the way on pay transparency, says Karen Bradley

The Culture Secretary also spoke of a potential move out of London for Channel 4.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley

By PA Reporters

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has said she wants the BBC to “lead the way” on pay transparency amid calls for it to reveal pay information relating to independent production companies.

She said the BBC, which this year released documents about its highest paid stars, with Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topping the list, must be at the “forefront of pay transparency”.

Ms Bradley told the Royal Television Society (RTS) convention in Cambridge: “There has been some debate about how far the BBC should be expected to go on pay transparency.

“The chairman of the Culture Select Committee is eager to extend pay data as far as independent production companies, which the industry – including the BBC – currently feels would be excessive.

“However, while I recognise the BBC’s concerns, I must say that I sympathise with the principle that the BBC should be at the forefront of pay transparency, and we expect them to lead the way.”

In a question and answer session afterwards, Ms Bradley said she was not going beyond the BBC charter and salaries paid through BBC Studios would not be disclosed.

Chris Evans

A BBC spokesman said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s confirmation that the charter agreement stands and that talent paid by independent production companies or BBC Studios will not be disclosed for good commercial reasons.

“The BBC already leads the way on transparency and will continue to do so.”

Ms Bradley also spoke of a potential move out of London for Channel 4.

Given the broadcaster has successfully worked hard “to give a voice to as wide a range of people as possible,” she said: “It is this very sensibility that makes it well placed to relocate outside London – along with its unique status as a public service broadcaster paid for by commercial activity but owned by the taxpayer.

“I want to be very clear regarding Channel 4 – it is a great broadcaster with many fantastic programmes. However, as a public asset I expect it to do even more to support the whole country.

“Decisions about its programming should not all be made in the bubble of Westminster. And people seeking to work in the media should not feel that they have to move to London.”

She has already had “constructive discussions” with Alex Mahon who takes over as Channel 4’s chief executive in November.

Ms Bradley said: “This is about Channel 4’s long-term future, and it may take some time to resolve.

“We are not looking at people moving tomorrow, but I do expect change by the end of this Parliament – and I hope to reach an agreement with Channel 4 on the direction forward by the end of the year.”

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