BBC stars face substantial pay cuts

Talent face salary cuts of between 25% - 40%

LONDON -- BBC director general Mark Thompson has told the broadcaster's biggest stars that they face pay cuts of between 25% and 40% as the pubcaster comes under increasing pressure to cut payments and costs.

Addressing BBC talent at a cocktail get together at BBC's headquarters, the director general is understood to have told some of Britain's biggest household names that the next round of pay negotiations could see on- and off-screen talent earning over £100,000 ($163,500) a year face cuts of 25%, while higher paid stars could see fees cut by as much as 40%.

The BBC refused to confirm the figures, saying only that Thompson had addressed BBC talent as part of a "dialog" with artists.

"No organization is immune from the economic climate and we have to find substantial savings," a statement said.

"Talent fees are not excluded from the economic pressures faced across the organization and these will be reflected in our ongoing negotiations. This was an internal event as part of our ongoing dialog with the artists and presenters who work for us."

The BBC has been roundly criticized for paying stars such as Jonathan Ross, radio star Chris Moyles and comedian Graham Norton millions of pounds of license fee money while at the same time inflating talent fees across the board.

Struggling commercial rivals -- whose revenues have been hit by the advertising downturn -- have also accused the pubcaster of inflating talent fees to take talent off the market.

Last week a House of Commons select committee report said the BBC was responsible for "significantly" overpaying radio stars and wasting license fee payers money.
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