Channel 4 condemned by MPs over 'indefensible' executive pay packets

MPs have criticised the "unacceptable" pay packet of Channel 4's former chief executive Andy Duncan.

Levels of pay received by top management at the publicly-owned broadcaster have been called "indefensible" in a report by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

MPs said that they were "struck" by Mr Duncan's remuneration in 2009, "a grand total of 1.48m".

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By comparison, they said BBC director general Mark Thompson received 838,000 in the 2009-10 financial year.

Mr Duncan's remuneration included 225,000 for meeting performance criteria and for staying at the broadcaster for a minimum of two years.

The MPs' report said: "The remuneration package that Mr Duncan received was unacceptably high. The award of a loyalty bonus for only two years' service was wrong and should not be repeated.

"We deplore the decision process that previously inflated the remuneration packages of top Channel 4 management to indefensible levels, and welcome signs that Channel 4 is now taking steps to adjust senior remuneration downwards."

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Channel 4 paid 3.85m, including salaries, bonuses and benefits, to 14 executive and non-executive board members last year, compared to 3.42m the previous year.

The MPs' committee said it would continue to "keep a close eye" on senior remuneration levels.

It was told that about 70 people at the broadcaster are now paid more than 100,000 compared to about 90 people previously.

Mr Duncan announced he was quitting the broadcaster in September last year after five years running the state-owned channel.

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Channel 4's current chief executive, David Abraham, has been paid about 490,000, which the report said is about 180,000 less than Mr Duncan's basic salary at its height.

Channel 4 has in the past called for additional public financial support, saying that it faced an estimated 100m funding gap, partly because of a decline in advertising revenue.