BBC head signals end to high presenter salaries

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The head of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, has signalled an end to the high wages paid to the corporation’s star presenters.

Admitting the BBC may have responded ‘too meekly’ to demands in the past, he said the licence fee would not be abused in future as the broadcaster seeks to retain talent.

News that high earning presenters were receiving multi-million pound wage packets caused outrage among licence fee payers.

Jonathan Ross came under fire when it was disclosed he had secured a three-year deal worth £18 million. Graham Norton will also receive £5 million from the BBC over two years.

Speaking to the Royal Television Society in London, Sir Michael said: ‘It is important that the BBC does not use the privilege of a guaranteed income to overbid for talent, thereby raising costs for the industry as a whole and reducing the value delivered to licence-fee payers.”

He added: ‘We will simply not allow the BBC to act in an anti-competitive way or in a manner that stifles enterprise and innovation outside the BBC.”

BBC director general Mark Thompson has previously defended the payouts, claiming the likes of Ross and Norton are worth the investment.

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