LONDON: British broadcaster BBC will allow its top stars to defend themselves on social media after details of their salaries are revealed on Wednesday.
The list of top TV and radio presenters, who earn more than £150,000 (SR732,630) a year, is expected to include Gary Lineker, Graham Norton and Fiona Bruce.
BBC’s talents — such as Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, who has more than 5 million Twitter followers — are frequent users of social media and often engage readers and critics in bitter exchanges.
Last year David Cameron ordered the BBC to disclose what it paid on-air talent earning more than £450,000 a year. But the figure was slashed to £150,000 under Theresa May in a move that meant other well-known faces – such as Laura Kuenssberg and John Humphrys – would also be on the list.
BBC has told all employees on the list that their salary was to be revealed and has offered support and advice on dealing with the fallout.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said publishing the salaries of stars earning more than £150,000 would bring the BBC “in line with the civil service” on transparency.
It would help ensure that BBC “produces value for money for the license fee” and that more transparency could lead to savings that could be “invested in even more great programs,” she told the House of Commons in September last year.
Wednesday’s publication of the list – alongside its annual report – will be followed by a vigorous defense of the BBC’s top-level pay from senior corporation figures, led by director general Tony Hall.
“I completely understand that to lots and lots of people these are very large sums but we are a broadcaster, a global broadcaster, in a very competitive market,” Hall said in an interview.
“No-one would want us to be paying sums where it’s not at a discount to the market. People expect us to have great broadcasters, great presenters, great stars but pay them less than they would get in the market.”