Belfast Telegraph

BBC hits back at DUP Campbell's 'nonsense' accusation of 'timed release' of stars' pay

The BBC has hit back at suggestions from the DUP's Gregory Campbell that it has held off releasing information about what it pays its biggest stars to the day before Parliament goes on recess.

In a statement, Mr Campbell said that the publication of the BBC's top talents' earnings, scheduled to come out Wednesday July 19, was being timed for just before Parliament goes onto its summer recess.

The public broadcaster is required to release information about which of its big earners pull in more than £150,000 a year.

The most recent BBC annual report found that 109 television and broadcast 'talents' earn more than the £150,000 threshold - with nine individuals being paid between £750,000 and £1 million.

Parliament is due to go on its summer recess this Thursday July 20, and will not return again until September.

Mr Campbell raised the issue during a Point of Order in the House of Commons.

He said: "The BBC is our public sector broadcaster, paid for by the general public through the licence fee. The campaign to finally secure this level of transparency from the BBC has taken in the region of ten years," he said.

"Having firstly avoided taking this decision and then more lately dragged their feet on publication of these details the BBC is now finally releasing the information the day before Parliament rises for the summer and therefore avoiding detailed Parliamentary scrutiny.

"The public knows well what various outlets across the BBC have to say about government departments or other public bodies which conveniently release information at such times in the hope that it won’t make too much of a story."

He added that he believed it was "24-carat hypocrisy on the BBC's part" and that "the timing of this publication demonstrates the BBC is often not prepared to provide the level of openness and transparency itself that it demands from others."

He added: "They will not however, avoid the harsh spotlight of truth however much they try."

Responding to the comments from the East Londonderry MP, a BBC spokesman said: "The Charter requires the BBC to publish pay information in the Annual Report which is always published around the same time each year in mid-July and will be available online for all to read.

"As usual, a CMS Select Committee will have the opportunity to further scrutinise the report during a hearing in the autumn. We have been publishing the pay of Senior Managers of our own accord since 2009.

"To suggest we are anything other than open and transparent is nonsense."

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