Tuesday 24 April 2018

Revealing pay packets of its stars is a ‘heated and political issue’, says Channel 4

The salaries of BBC talent earning more than £150,000 will be published later this month.

Revealing pay packets of its stars is a ‘heated and political issue’, says Channel 4 (Lewis Whyld/PA)
Revealing pay packets of its stars is a ‘heated and political issue’, says Channel 4 (Lewis Whyld/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Channel 4 has defended the salaries of top executives as it dismissed suggestions it should reveal the pay of its top stars as the BBC will soon have to do.

The pay packets of BBC talent earning more than £150,000 will be published later this month, under the terms of the broadcaster’s new royal charter.

Salaries of some of the BBC’s best-known faces, including Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker and chat show host Graham Norton, are expected to be disclosed and the BBC’s chairman recently suggested that Channel 4 and ITV should follow suit.

Channel 4 headquarters (Philip Toscano/PA)

But Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s outgoing chief creative officer, dismissed the idea as the broadcaster unveiled its annual report.

“This is a heated issue and a very political one…” she said.

“It’s potentially inflationary… and it’s not an effective way of managing talent so no, I don’t think we’ll be responding to that.”

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said last week: “It’s a pity Channel 4 and ITV are not producing their numbers at the same time.

“It would be very interesting and I don’t think we would come out badly in that comparison.”

The comments came as figures in Channel 4’s annual report showed that its departing chief executive, David Abraham, was paid £957,000 in 2016, up from £881,000 the year before.

Channel 4’s Jay Hunt (Channel4/PA)

Outgoing chief creative officer Hunt also took home more money, from £612,000 in 2015 to £683,000 in 2016.

Abraham’s total includes a bonus of £256,000 on top of his £560,000 basic salary and £140,000 in pension contributions.

Hunt, who announced her departure from Channel 4 just before its new chief executive was announced, received £180,000 on top of her £433,000 salary.

Channel 4 chairman Charles Gurassa defended the figures, saying: “Every year David and Jay and the team have to go out and compete for every penny they earn and our competition is very good and effective … we have to compete in a market place.

“For that we need brilliant people. That’s all that makes the difference to Channel 4 being successful or not … We do remarkably well to get the talent we get for the pay that we offer.”

David Abraham (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Abraham, who is leaving his post as chief executive after seven years at the broadcaster, had a dig at Big Brother during his final report at Channel 4.

While discussing how when he first arrived at Channel 4 it was on its final series with the broadcaster, he said the now Channel 5 show was “a shadow of its former self now”.

The Conservatives pledged in their manifesto to move the broadcaster out of London.

Channel 4 has proposed increasing the amount it spends on programmes commissioned from outside London instead.

Privatisation is now off the table, with the Government deciding that the broadcaster should remain publicly owned.

But the broadcaster did suggest that the recent election result could put the mooted move out of London in a new context.

“The election has clearly changed the environment … that creates its own different dynamic,” its chairman said.

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