BBC Cuts Top Talent Bill by 4% After Jeremy Clarkson Ax

LONDON — Salaries of top talent at the BBC fell by 4% last year to around £200 million ($267 million) following the departure of major stars such as former “Top Gear” presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

At a hearing of the British Parliament’s committee on culture, media and sport, BBC Director-General Tony Hall revealed that the organization had shaved $2.6 million off the amount it spends on talent earning more than $670,242 in the 2014-15 financial year.

Additionally, the number of people earning between $670,242 and $6.7 million — the Beeb’s highest pay bracket — dropped from nine to seven in the last financial year, according to BBC figures.

Clarkson, who was sacked by the BBC in March 2015 after he allegedly punched and racially abused “Top Gear’s” former producer, was believed to earn around $2 million for the show. His fellow former co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May were also thought to be among the Beeb’s highest earners before they left.

The total bill for BBC’s top stars, who are likely to include talk-show host Graham Norton and soccer-roundup hit “Match of the Day” presenter Gary Lineker, dropped 25% from $11.9 million to $8.8 million in the same period. Radio 2 breakfast show DJ Chris Evans, the new face of “Top Gear,” is believed to be the pubcaster’s highest-paid presenter.

The BBC has previously resisted attempts to be more transparent about its top stars’ salaries, claiming it would encourage rival broadcasters to poach its talent. But as part of the government’s new white paper on the future of the corporation, which was unveiled in May, the BBC has agreed that any on-screen talent who earns more than Hall — who is paid $650,891 — will be named.

Hall told the parliamentary committee that the reduction in the BBC’s spending on big names was important.

“At the moment we band what we are spending on talent and it absolutely focuses us on what we are spending, and we are getting results out of that,” said Hall. “We are concerned if we begin to publish names alongside all these things it becomes a poachers’ charter. We want to make sure from the point of view of license-fee payers we are getting the talent they want to see on-screen and on the airwaves.”

Among the lower pay brackets, the number of people at the BBC earning between $334,913 and $670,242 increased from 34 to 38, an increase of 18% in the bracket’s total payroll, which rose to $17.94 million.

The number of employees earning between $133,833 and $200,896 also went up, from 134 to 152 people, who now collectively earn $24.6 million — a 15% increase for that pay bracket.

More TV

  • Alton Brown

    TV News Roundup: Food Network Announces Premiere Date of 'Good Eats: The Return'

    In today’s roundup, Showtime releases a full-length trailer for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” and Food Network announces the return of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”  DATES After taking a break from the series, Alton Brown will bring “Good Eats” back to Food Network’s primetime lineup with “Good Eats: The Return.”  In its first [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

  • Charles Levin Obit

    Missing 'Seinfeld' Actor Charles Levin's Body Believed to be Found

    Oregon authorities believe they have found the body of the missing “Seinfeld” actor Charles Levin. He was 70 years old. According to Associated Press, Levin’s son reported the actor missing from Grants Pass on July 8. On July 12, search and rescue teams determined a search area in a remote area northeast of Selma with [...]

  • Oliver Jackson-Cohen Invisible Man

    ‘Haunting of Hill House’ Star Oliver Jackson-Cohen Returning for ‘Haunting of Bly Manor’

    Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who was recently cast as the titular character in the upcoming Blumhouse-Universal Pictures feature “The Invisible Man,” is set to haunt viewers once more on Netflix. Jackson-Cohen, who starred in “The Haunting of Hill House,” will return to star in the second installment of the Netflix anthology series, titled “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” [...]

  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

    Amazon to Develop 'Jack Reacher' Series

    Watch out Tom Cruise, there’s going to be another Jack Reacher in town. In a competitive situation, Amazon has won the rights to develop a series based on the protagonist from Lee Child’s novels. The series hails from “Scorpion” creator Nick Santora, who will write, showrun and executive produce. Child’s “Jack Reacher” series has sold over [...]

  • Fox News Media Taps Jason Klarman

    Fox News Media Taps Jason Klarman as Executive VP, Marketing

    Jason Klarman, a veteran TV executive who has served stints at NBCUniversal and Fullscreen Media, has been named executive vice president of Fox Corporation’s Fox News Media, and will supervise brand strategy for Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and other assets that are part of the division. Klarman will report to Suzanne Scott, CEO [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content