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Patten announces plans to tackle BBC's 'toxic' salary issue

The BBC will be making moves to address the issue of the "toxic" salaries paid to its executives, according to Lord Patten, BBC Trust chairman.

Lord Patten: chairman of the BBC Trust

Lord Patten: chairman of the BBC Trust

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Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday (3 July), Patten, who took up his post in May, said the corporation’s executive pay grades was, "one of the most toxic reasons for the public’s lack of sympathy for the BBC".

He said: "What’s happened does seem to fly in the face of public service ethos."

He warned that BBC managers’ salaries of £150,000 or more would be addressed, hinting that this could lead to a number of reductions in those salaries, to meet the funding cuts at the BBC.

A total of 74 senior managers are reported to have earned more than £160,000 in 2009 and this month's annual report is expected to reveal the BBC pays 19 presenters, actors and journalists more than £500,000 a year.

Patten said he hoped the corporation could become the first public sector organisation to implement some of the proposals in Will Hutton’s Work Foundation report on fair pay.

He added that the proposal in the report that recommended an executive should not receive pay of more than 20 times the median salary of an organisation, was a "good idea".

The news of salary review comes ahead of the BBC’s annual report, to be published on 12 July.

The corporation is facing cuts of 17 to 20% after the licence fee was frozen for six years and the costs of the World Service were transferred to the BBC. It has already seen the amount it pays its senior managers cut by 25%, and moves have been made to reduce the total number of senior managers by 18%.

As part of the management cull, led by BBC director general Mark Thompson, Sharon Baylay, former director of marketing, communications and audiences, was made redundant, receiving a redundancy payment of a reported £390,000.

Mark Byford, deputy director general of the BBC, is understood to have been been paid almost £950,000 as part of his redundancy.

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