BBC pay reveal ‘a factor’ in Evans’ exit

Image caption Tony Hall said Evans had been under “pressure” after his salary was revealed

BBC director general Tony Hall has said the publication of star salaries was a factor in radio presenters Chris Evans and Eddie Mair choosing to leave.

Lord Hall told a parliamentary select committee: “In the case of Eddie and Chris, you really need to ask them.

“But undoubtedly, disclosure has been a factor in their decision to leave.”

He added: “We have to recognise we’re not going to attract people at the kind of mega sums others in the commercial sphere might be able to pay.”

Mair has moved from Radio 4’s PM programme to LBC, while Evans will leave his Radio 2 breakfast show before Christmas for Virgin Radio.

Lord Hall said Evans found the pressure “quite hard” after topping the BBC talent pay list last year and coming second in this year’s list.

“For three or four days he was the centre of a lot of attention,” he said.

Lord Hall told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee: “[It has a] bearing on when you think about where you want to work in the future. I think he’s a remarkable presenter. He’s a loss to the BBC, a loss to our audiences.”

He added that Evans, who was paid £1.66m in 2017-18, also wanted to leave so he could find a new challenge.

Last year was the first time the pay of stars earning more than £150,000 was made public. The BBC was been compelled to reveal the information under the terms of its new Royal Charter.

Lord Hall said the corporation would “find the next generation of talent” and promote from within rather than compete with the “mega” salaries on offer from commercial rivals.

“A lot of [current BBC] presenters I know could make possibly more money outside but actually are not doing it for that – they’re doing it because they’re committed to the BBC and I admire them hugely for that,” he said.

“But of course we will lose some people and of course have lost a couple of people for a large number of reasons, but no doubt disclosure and the fact people know their pay has been a factor in some of those losses.”


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