Northern Ireland

Stephen Nolan: BBC NI presenter's salary revealed

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Media captionBBC NI's Stephen Nolan speaking to BBC Radio Foyle

BBC Northern Ireland presenter Stephen Nolan receives a salary of between £400,000 and £449,999 a year, the corporation has revealed.

He is among 96 stars just named by the BBC in its annual report, who earn more than £150,000 annually.

It is the first time the information has been made public.

Most BBC staff and talent earn well under £150,000. Only around 0.5% of the workforce - and only 0.25% of talent - are paid more than that.

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Media captionStephen Nolan discusses his pay on BBC Newsline

The Belfast-born broadcaster presents a number of radio and TV programmes for the BBC.

He presents The Nolan Show Monday to Friday on BBC Radio Ulster, a programme on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings for BBC 5 live and Question Time: Extra Time on Thursday evenings, as well as hosting the TV programme, Nolan Live, on BBC One Northern Ireland several times a year.

'Independent business'

It is understood the salaries he receives for his separate presenting roles within the BBC have been amalgamated.

Details of money he earns through programmes commissioned for the BBC from his independent production company are not included in the figure.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle's News at One programme, the broadcaster refused to say how much he earned in the last 12 months for programmes made by his production company.

"At the end of the day, I try to come with ideas and I try to win business, the BBC are not releasing how much they pay for private productions, it's a commercially sensitive business," he said.

"I'm trying to win independent business by coming up with really good ideas that might be able to be commissioned by the BBC or indeed other broadcasters and I'm talking to other broadcasters too - that's what production companies do."

Image caption Other BBC presenters named in the review include Graham Norton, Gary Lineker and Fiona Bruce

Asked if he had ever turned down an offer from a competing broadcaster for more money, Stephen Nolan said "other offers had been made (to me) where I could have made more money for doing significantly less".

He did not reveal who had approached him or how much money had been offered.

"It's a pleasure for me to work at the BBC and being paid a lot of money to do it," he added.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show on Wednesday morning before the list was published, the presenter said he would be addressing the issue on Thursday's programme.

"I will be making sure that someone independent of me is interviewing me and making sure listeners have access to ask me questions about my salary," he added.

'Best talent'

Speaking to BBC News NI, the BBC said: "Stephen presents up to nine radio programmes each week across BBC Radio Ulster and Five Live.

"According to the latest RAJAR figures his BBC Radio Ulster programme is the most listened in Northern Ireland and he also presents the BBC Northern Ireland television series Nolan Live, which regularly attracts an audience share of more than 30 per cent.

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Media captionSteven Carson said BBC NI is 'committed' to paying for top talent

"Now with the BBC for 13 years, Stephen is hugely popular with our audiences and is also a multi-award winning presenter.

"He holds the record for winning the most Sony Radio Academy Golds, with seven to his name, and is the current Radio Academy Speech Broadcaster of The Year. He is also a two-time recipient of the Nick Clarke Award and has won Royal Television Society awards two years in a row for his television work.

Image caption The broadcaster said he will be talking to listeners about details of his salary on his BBC Northern Ireland radio show on Thursday morning

Steven Carson, head of BBC Northern Ireland productions, said: "The BBC operates within a market place, there are other big providers.

"Our audience have shown in our own research that they want the best presenters and the best talent to be on BBC services."

He said that the BBC takes several factors into account when deciding how much top presenters should be paid, including the amount of work involved, the nature of that work and how much that presenter may be in demand from other broadcasters.

'We pay the piper'

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, from the DUP, has been a strong supporter of having information about the highest BBC pay grades in the public domain.

He told the BBC's Talkback programme: "It has taken a very very long time, why did it take so long?

"We, the licence fee paying public, we pay the piper so we should call the tune, it's as simple as that."

Mr Campbell dismissed suggestions that publishing top presenters' pay will have an inflationary effect on future pay levels.

The DUP MP also questioned the timing of the BBC releasing the information on talent pay - the day before Parliament rises for its summer recess.

"Parliament would have been able, over the course of today, tomorrow and the next day - if we had have had the opportunity - to investigate this, to examine it, to raise other issues," he said.

Image copyright Adrian Weinbrecht/BBC
Image caption Belfast born Derek Thompson is the BBC's highest paid actor

Sinn Féin said it welcomed the move by the corporation, saying "there is an onus on the BBC to be transparent about the levels of salaries".

However, its culture spokesperson, Sinead Ennis, said that her party shared concerns about "exorbitant" salaries paid to some presenters.

'Inequality'

"Many will find it incredible that such vast sums are being paid by a publicly-funded organisation at a time of austerity, pay caps on public sector workers and cutbacks to regional BBC services," she added.

"The clear gender inequality, where only a third of the top earners are women, is also a source of concern."

Overall, 25 men on the BBC talent list receive more than £250,000, compared to just nine women.

As part of its annual report on Wednesday, the corporation published a full list of all its senior managers and on-air talent who earn in excess of £150,000 a year.

BBC Northern Ireland Director Peter Johnston is the highest paid senior executive in Northern Ireland, earning between £150,000 and £199,999 annually.

While Northern Ireland- born actor Derek Thompson, who plays Charlie Fairhead in BBC One drama Casualty, is the BBC's highest paid actor.

He received between £350,000 and £400,000 over the last financial year.

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