BBC on-air journalists took on a combined 301 outside engagements in the first nine months of 2021, including 108 in the third quarter of the year, according to the BBC’s latest data on external staff earnings.
Although the BBC did not disclose exactly how much each presenter was paid, the total earned in the latest quarter from external events could amount to more than £231,000, according to Press Gazette analysis.
Unlike previous quarters where the BBC only revealed if the engagement fee was greater or less than £5,000, the third quarterly publication includes a more detailed breakdown of payments to disclose if the presenter was paid less than £1,000, between £1,000 and £5,000, £5,000 to £10,000, or more than £10,000. The majority of the payments (99) were under £5,000 in fee.
To arrive at our total estimate for the third quarter we took the middle of each range, assuming that engagements under £1,000 paid an average of £500, engagements from £1,000 to £5,000 paid an average of £3,000, and those from £5,000 to £10,000 earned the presenter an average of £7,500. For the two events that paid upwards of £10,000, we assumed the average fee to be £15,000. The lack of specific data provided by the BBC means, however, that our total is only a ball-park estimate.
Combined with the data previously released by the BBC, this suggests that on-air presenters may have netted a combined £631,000 so far in 2021. (We outline the methodology used to estimate earnings for the previous quarters here).
Topping the list of presenters taking on the most engagements in the quarter were World Tonight presenter Ritula Shah, special correspondent Razia Iqbal and Radio Surrey presenter James Cannon who took on four commitments each between July and September.
Iqbal tops the list for appearing at the most paid outside events this year to date (12).
Among the household names who earned significant fees from outside appearances in the third quarter were BBC World News anchor Maryam Moshiri and HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur who each received at least £10,000 for one event each. In September Moshiri moderated an event hosted by law firm, Clifford Chance while Sackur moderated an event by Yalta European Strategy - a network created by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk to promote the country’s European integration.
Naga Munchetty, Clive Myrie, Huw Edwards (pictured) and Emily Maitlis were other well-known names who received fees of up to £10,000 for their outside appearances.
Thirty-five journalists took on at least three paid engagements in the first nine months of 2021.
September saw the highest number of external events undertaken during the year of any one month so far (69). There was a natural slump in appearances during the summer, while earlier in the year there were still lockdown restrictions curtailing many events.
Our analysis suggests that Clive Myrie and Emily Maitlis, along with former BBC North America Editor Justin Webb, are likely to be among the journalists who earned the most so far in 2021. On the most conservative estimate, Webb has earned at least £26,000 for engagements which include speaking for CityWealth Magazine and hosting an event at financial trade body the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.
They are among 21 high-earning staff (£150k+) who have taken on external engagements this year. Of the corporation’s top earners, home editor Mark Easton has taken on the most outside engagements (nine). His commitments have included chairing panels at events by housing consortium CHIC and estate agency Savills.
The highest-paid earner on the list, News at Ten’s Edwards, received more than £5,000 for chairing a panel in May at an event by the British Insurance Brokers' Association. He was also paid between £5,000 and £10,000 for another event hosted by Bauer Media in September, likely Rail magazine’s annual National Rail Awards.
Together the BBC’s highest-paid journalists have undertaken 62 appearances between them as of September, 25 (40%) of which have paid more than £5,000.
Since January, on-air presenters in current affairs, sports news and radio and senior leaders have had to declare earnings from paid external work. This includes public speaking engagements or corporate events.
The publication of this register is part of the BBC’s impartiality efforts which has been a key theme for director-general Tim Davie.
Staff cannot take on external work without written approval from a divisional head of department.