Belfast Telegraph

BBC is making fools of the public with salary levels: DUP MP

Critical: Sammy Wilson
Critical: Sammy Wilson
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said it was "ludicrous" that some BBC presenters are getting paid more than the Prime Minister or the PSNI Chief Constable.

He also dismissed the latest figures as "fake news" because they don't include the amount paid to independent production companies for programmes commissioned by the BBC.

His comments come after it emerged that Northern Ireland TV and radio star Stephen Nolan, the Beeb's 13th highest earner, takes home the biggest pay packet in the country - despite an official drop in salary of £75,000.

"Nobody is worth that amount of money. Many elderly people who now face paying the licence fee are going to think the BBC is having a joke at their expense," Mr Wilson said..

"On the one hand they've said they need to increase the fee because they're in dire financial straits, and at the same they're handing out inflation-busting increases to top presenters. It's crazy that some of them are getting multiples of what the PM is paid."

Mr Wilson slammed the BBC's "outrageous abuse of public money", adding that the corporation "is subject to different rules than the rest of us".

"The BBC promised to get their top pay levels under control but it's quite clear that's not the case," he added.

"They get on their high horses about other people's salaries but how is the BBC in any position to question how much anyone else gets paid when they happily make their way to the bank with bulging pockets of licence-payers' money?"

He also said that rather than getting a handle on its massive salaries, the BBC is now guilty of "reverse discrimination" by paying women more.

"They seem to have used the equality issue as an excuse for piling more money into the salary pot of the BBC when the obvious thing to do would've been cut some of the top male earners' salaries to get the wage bill down," he said.

"Their idea of balancing of the gender books is a joke. It's a case of balancing the gender books gone mad.

"They knew they had to do something - but rather than reduce their wage bill they simply inflated it further."

He added that he has "no confidence" in the public broadcaster.

"This is a great big insult to the man and woman in the street," he said. "When it comes to their finances there's no one better at pumping out fake news than the BBC."

His DUP colleague Gregory Campbell MP said he wanted to know how much presenters get paid from the BBC for work through production companies which some of them own.

"During my discussions with the National Audit Office about presenter-linked production companies, I was told that these companies could be receiving somewhere between £5,000 and £200,000 per hour for these programmes," he said.

"No other use of public money would be hidden in such a way. It is a scandal that millions of taxpayers' money is being spent without any public transparency."

Harry Fone of right-wing pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance said the pay rises to top-paid stars were staggering.

"After announcing that many pensioners will now be forced to pay the dreaded TV tax, you'd think the BBC would have shown more respect to taxpayers by cutting back on unnecessary spending," he said.

"How can the BBC justify giving so many sky-high salaries - that most licence-fee payers can only dream of - when whacking up charges on older people?

"The licence fee is outdated and the BBC must move into the 21st century, learning lessons from successful services like Netflix."

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