Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Nolan dodges £300,000 BBC salary claim - on his own show

By Jonny Bell

Stephen Nolan was quizzed on claims he is paid £300,000 a year by the BBC - on his own Radio Ulster show.

Over the weekend the Sunday World claimed the BBC presenter was paid the equivalent of £800 a day to front his two television shows - new business show Made in Northern Ireland begins on Monday night as well as Nolan Live on Wednesday - and his nine shows on Radio Ulster and 5 Live.

The BBC is set to publish the salaries of its highest on air talent under new government proposals.

And - as Nolan does himself - he was quizzed on the claims on his own show not only by producer Vinny Hurrell and DUP MP Gregory Campbell but by callers to the show.

Nolan said the figure quoted in the press was "pure speculation" and that he had no comment to make.

Asked if he thought he was worth the "speculative" figure, Gregory Campbell said: "We need to know what the figure is.

"As I have said before, there are two things that we require. How much do we the public pay for the people that we pay?

"The second thing we require is to know what is it that they do to earn that money? It's not rocket science."

Tony Axon, of advertising ad agency said Nolan was whatever the BBC was paying him.

"You are definitely worth it," he told Nolan and his hundreds of thousands of listeners.

"The level of commitment, the quality of the programme, the type of the programming, the size of the audience - all of those things add up to value for money.

"[The salary] is decided by market forces and if this is what the BBC has to do to stay at the forefront of this type of programming and the audience likes it, which they do, then he must be worth the money."

Taxi driver Robert called in to ask if Nolan would be sacked if he revealed his wages, again Nolan side-stepped the matter.

Nolan said it was for the BBC to decide on if his salary was made public.

"I won't object to the BBC deciding to do whatever they think is right for the corporate good of the organisation," he said.

"It is not for me to comment on the Sunday World article."

Government proposals are in the pipeline for the BBC to reveal what it pays those presenters that earn over £150,000 a year.

The broadcaster said 109 of its on-air talent will be affected by the move.

However, BBC Northern Ireland has refused to reveal how many of its stars will be affected by the order only saying it will publish what is required of it in its annual report.

Among those likely to make it on to the broadcaster's list are football host Gary Lineker, chat show host Graham Norton and presenter Jeremy Vine.

Earnings will be broken down into bands of £50,000, although the gaps will become smaller in future years. The details are set to be published in the 2016-17 annual report next summer.

BBC director general Tony Hall said: "Our position on talent pay has not changed and all major broadcasters have questioned the merit of the proposal. The BBC operates in a competitive market and this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love."

More: BBC can sulk but viewers need truth about presenters' pay

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