Great Britain

BBC slammed for paying Radio 4 host James Naughtie £175,000 for just 23 hours of air time

THE BBC has been paying Radio 4 host James Naughtie £175,000 a year for just 23 hours of broadcast time.

His salary was released last week alongside the Beeb’s other top earners.

It covers April 2019-20 but, unlike many other presenters, there was no breakdown of how much work he did.

Now, a Sun on Sunday audit can reveal the 69-year-old was on air for just over 23 hours in that time — equal to £7,608 an hour of broadcasting, or £126 a minute.

Naughtie presented two documentaries, an opera performance, interviews and a night of election coverage. He also hosted 12 episodes of a book club series where he interviewed authors.

The BBC came under fire last week as accounts showed staff pay was up 3.5 per cent to £1.5billion this year. Yet, a total of 450 staff working on its regional programmes in England are being made redundant as it looks to save £25million.

A source said: “It’s quite clear it’s been an old boy’s club at the top of the BBC. Naughtie has been a big name for years but I cannot see how the BBC can justify such an enormous salary for that amount of work.

“He’s well respected and brilliant at what he does but that’s a huge sum and a kick in the teeth for those losing jobs. It shows how out of touch the BBC is.”

In April, Naughtie also published a book, On the Road: Adventures from Nixon to Trump. On top of his BBC salary, he owns a company, Pagoda Words Limited, which has reserves of £90,000.

Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball, on £1.36million, will become the BBC’s top earner after a £1million rise, despite losing nearly a million listeners.

Match of the Day host Gary Lineker will get £1.35million after a cut from £1.75million.

Naughtie’s huge pay dwarfs the Prime Minister’s £150,402- a-year salary and up to £114,000 for a brain surgeon.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “This expenditure would be indefensible at the best of times but certainly not when they are charging over-75s for a licence fee.

“I don’t know how BBC bosses can sleep at night.

“These huge salaries are paid for off the backs of ­pensioners, some of the most vulnerable in society.

“The fact this presenter earns such a lot for so little work is a scandal.”

The BBC defended his bumper salary. A spokesman said: “Jim is one of the most recognisable voices on radio but listing his on-air hours does not represent any of the behind-the-scenes work.

Dan Wootton says the BBC have proven with revolting rich list that all their talk of frugality is just that

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