ABC given deadline to disclose stars’ pay
The ABC will have to disclose the identities of its highest-paid stars by the end of next month, after a request from the federal government.
The Herald Sun reports today that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has asked the ABC and SBS to release a list of its journalists and presenters who earn more than $200,000.
Senator Fifield said if the broadcasters did not co-operate, he would see to it that legislation force them to put out a list.
In a letter to ABC chairman Justin Milne, obtained by the Melbourne newspaper, Senator Fifield said the public deserved more transparency.
“Taxpayers are entitled to expect a high level of transparency about how their taxes are being expended on their behalf,” he wrote.
It was revealed earlier this year that the ABC’s top 20 presenters each earnt more than $225,000. The public broadcaster confirmed five of its presenters earn between $375,000 and $450,000, but would not name them.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation was behind the push for transparency, as part of a deal to support the government’s media reform package, which passed through the Senate last month.
In Britain, the BBC must publish the wages of staff earning more than £150,000 ($253,000).
Senator Fifield said the ABC and SBS should publish in their annual reports or online a list of the names, positions and salaries of all staff and on-air talent who received more than $200,000.
“I request that the ABC voluntarily agree to provide this enhanced level of reporting and disclosure,” Senator Fifield said.
ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie appeared to lash out at One Nation last week when she said there was “no pressing need” to change the laws governing the ABC.
“Legislation designed to further a political vendetta by one party uncomfortable with being scrutinised by our investigative programs is not good policymaking,” she said.
“The public understand and support the ABC’s remit, knowing that it provides the quality, independence and commercialfree space that they want.”
Six ABC presenters are on pay packages between $300,000 and $375,000, and a further nine earn from $225,000 to $300,000. The ABC also revealed it pays more than $437 million in wages.
‘Taxpayers are entitled to expect a high level of transparency about how their taxes are being expended on their behalf’ SENATOR MITCH FIFIELD