Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: High price to pay for Nolan's talent

The BBC's salary structure - particularly for its star presenters - is a thing of mystery. Although the Corporation is funded by the public through the licence fee, it cites the Data Protection Act as its reason for refusing to disclose what it pays.

What we do know is that even the BBC thinks it pays some stars too much and it has decided to rein in its expenditure, a welcome development in these times of austerity.

Yet, according to our exclusive story today, the BBC in Northern Ireland is going to pay its biggest local star, Stephen Nolan, more than £5,000 a show for a new television programme.

It has to be accepted that Nolan is probably the most popular radio presenter in Northern Ireland, regularly drawing the highest ratings for his Radio Ulster show.

He is provocative and entertaining and often shines an uncomfortable light on the workings of the power-sharing administration at Stormont or other official bodies.

Of course, many times the resulting row is little more than a glorified bun fight, but Nolan does perform a valuable role on other occasions informing the public of what is going on in their name but often to their detriment.

Nolan is also a national radio presenter on Radio Five Live showing the esteem he is held in throughout the BBC. As such he is able to command a high fee and, of course, he is perfectly at liberty to negotiate as high a salary as he can. He makes no secret of the fact that he works hard and expects to be paid well.

However, there is a feeling that the £55,000 fee he will earn during the run of his new local television show is a tad excessive.

If Nolan was to find someone else getting paid the same sort of fee out of public funds for the same period of work he, no doubt, would have some probing questions to ask. Perhaps it is now time for him to answer if he thinks he delivers value for money.

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