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Thompson in stars warning over cuts

Cuts at the BBC will lead to the loss of "established stars" and a cull in senior management, the corporation's Director General warned.

Mark Thompson will face industry insiders and journalists after he used a speech to lay bare the scope of future job losses.

He said "top talent" pay will be reduced, adding: "Sometimes we will lose established stars as a result. When we do, we will replace them with new talent."

The corporation recently lost two of its most high-profile names, Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles, to ITV.

He also said the number of senior managers would be reduced by at least a fifth by the end of 2011 and the senior management payroll will fall by at least a quarter.

He said: "If we can go further, we will and we will look for reductions at every level in the organisation up to and including the Executive Board."

The audience at his James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture in Edinburgh was warned to expect "significant movement" on executive pay and told the next round of discussions with the Government about the licence fee "will be a moment for realism".

A large part of the speech was made up of a robust defence of the corporation and broadcasting in general, with Mr Thompson hitting back at what he called "exaggerated claims about waste and inefficiency" aimed at the BBC.

It came under fire from both inside and outside the corporation in recent years and was widely criticised for the large sums of licence fee money paid to its stars and top managers.

Staff are being balloted on whether to take strike action over plans to reform its pension scheme and its rivals accuse it of being overly powerful.

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