BBC chief is 'overpaid,' politician says

Shadow culture secretary slams Mark Thompson's salary

LONDON -- Signaling a potential shake-up for the BBC if the opposition Conservative party win the next general election, shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said Wednesday that BBC director general Mark Thompson needed a "reality check" for his annual £816,000 ($1.3 million) remuneration package.

Speaking at a media conference in the North of England, Hunt said Thompson's fee was "a huge amount of money" that was out of step with payments across the rest of the public sector at a time when the commercial sector was struggling for cash.

"I think to be director general of the BBC is a privilege, just like it is a privilege to be a member of parliament and I don't think we do it for the money," Hunt said.

"We have got into a ratchet effect with public sector salaries benchmarked against the private sector. I think £816,000 is too much for the director general of the BBC. It is a huge amount of money and one of the areas where we need to have a reality check."

The Conservatives have already said that if they win the next election they will introduce an annual review of the BBC's license fee of £3.6 billion ($5.9 billion) a year, which is currently guaranteed to increase with the rate of inflation for a six-year period.

The proposal has been branded as "political intervention" by BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons.