'The BBC’s spending on star pay soared by around £10million last year, it can be revealed today.
New figures will show the broadcaster spent approximately £157million on ‘on-air’ talent last year – up from £147.6million the year before.
This is a rise of nearly 7 per cent, about two-and-a-half times the inflation rate.
The figures, to be revealed soon in the BBC’s annual report, are likely to reignite fury over the Corporation’s decision to strip over-75s of their free TV licences.
The BBC has insisted it cannot afford the concession for pensioners, and that it should be means-tested.
But angry campaigners have called on the BBC to slash stars’ salaries to help fund the benefit. Last night, MPs branded the rise ‘unjustifiable’ and accused the BBC of asking pensioners to ‘subsidise’ star salaries.
Damian Collins, the Conservative chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said: ‘The pay increase levels are unjustifiable, especially when we were told that the BBC would be looking to make pay between men and women at the corporation fairer by reducing salaries for some of the highest-earning male presenters.
‘Pensioners who face losing their free licence will rightly fear that they are being asked to subsidise ever-rising pay costs at the BBC.’
John Whittingdale, a former Tory Culture Secretary, added: ‘This is a time when the BBC are pleading financial pressures. I think that many people would expect that – at the very least – that should mean their talent bill should stay the same. It is very difficult to justify why the BBC needs to pay vast amounts of money.’'
Read more: BBC spending on stars' wages soars by £10MILLION after gender pay row - as bosses continue to insist they can't afford free TV licences for over-75s
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