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BBC on defensive over Stephen Nolan's £65,000 pay hike

Star's salary still soaring despite corporation being ordered to cut costs by £125m

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Stephen Nolan

Stephen Nolan

Stephen Nolan

A £65,000 pay rise for Stephen Nolan has been defended by the BBC despite it coming as the broadcaster is under pressure to slash costs.

In April it was told it had to make savings of £125m in 2020-21, but that hasn't stopped the presenter of the self-styled "biggest show in the country" pocketing a salary of almost £400,000 from the licence fee, and that's before individual projects are accounted for.

While Mr Nolan was remaining unusually quiet yesterday, the BBC said the salary hike represented his "income across many projects".

The corporation's latest annual report, which gives pay details of its top earning stars, revealed Nolan took home between £390,000 and £394,999 in 2019-20, compared with around £325,000 in 2018-19.

His salary is for presenting The Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster, The Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio 5 Live, and Nolan Live on BBC One Northern Ireland.

The figure does not include payments for other programmes he presents like Top Table, as they are made by an independent production company.

BBC NI said: "Stephen's salary represents his income across many projects including his network programmes BBC Radio 5 Live, his daily BBC Radio Ulster shows and live television work.

"His published salary each year may vary, depending on when payments for work completed are actually made."

Our most successful broadcasting export, Eamonn Holmes, stood in for Nolan on Radio Ulster last week, and said he "takes his hat off" to the presenter for what he does.

"He's created an institution. Stephen is a complete tour de force," he said.

"Live broadcasting is increasingly perilous.

"It's not like being recorded, where you can edit things how you want.

"There are people who wake up in the morning and they just want to take offence.

"A lot of people wake up wanting to be affronted. Every single day there are people who try and have you sacked. Every single day.

"I think there's a certain blandness coming in, and thank goodness there are people like Stephen Nolan, or Piers Morgan, who are not there to accept that."

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the publication of the list of top earners at the BBC will be viewed by those over 75 losing their free TV licences as a demonstration of where the corporation's priorities lie.

"It has been evident for some time that the BBC is increasingly out of touch with its audience, and particularly older people who rely more on traditional media channels," Mr Campbell said.

"Those over-75s who have had their free TV licence stripped from them may have most to say about publication of the corporation's elite earners. Many of them will see it as a clear indication of where the BBC's priorities lie.

"The focus today will rightly be on some of the huge salaries paid to individuals. The new director-general must ensure that where BBC staff also have their own companies that profit from commissioning contracts from the BBC, that public scrutiny is introduced here also. The public are forced to pay for this service and genuine reform begins with total rather than part."

Mr Nolan's salary makes him one of the top 10 best paid presenters at the BBC.

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Beeb's top earners
GRAPHIC: RAYMOND ESTEBAN

Beeb's top earners GRAPHIC: RAYMOND ESTEBAN

Beeb's top earners GRAPHIC: RAYMOND ESTEBAN

Gary Lineker was again the highest paid star, earning about £1.75m during the year, the same as 2018-19.

Mr Lineker's pay was mainly for presenting Match Of The Day, while his co-presenter, fellow former England striker Alan Shearer, earned between £390,000 and £394,999.

Four women - Fiona Bruce, Zoe Ball, Lauren Laverne and Vanessa Feltz - also made the top 10 in 2019/20.

Pay packets made through BBC Studios, the broadcaster's commercial arm and responsible for the likes of Strictly Come Dancing, Antiques Roadshow and Doctor Who, are not disclosed.

Graham Norton takes home about £725,000 for his Radio 2 show and some TV work, but not his chat show.

The annual report estimated that the BBC earned £93m in licence fee income from Northern Ireland in 2019-20, down from £97m in 2018-19.

Of that income, £59m was spent on specific local output - BBC NI TV, BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle and BBC NI online services.

Other big earners in NI

Golfer Rory McIlroy winnings in 2018-19: $24.3m

First and Deputy First Ministers: £123,000 per year

Leicester City footballer Jonny Evans: £4.16m per year

NI Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan: £234,184 per year

Belfast City Council's chief executive Suzanne Wylie: £169,575 per year

Northern Ireland average salary: £27,434 per year

Belfast Telegraph