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April 28, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:16am

Media salaries: Which news companies pay their staff the most?

By Andrew Kersley

Following on from last month’s list of the highest-paid media executives, Press Gazette has used the accounts of publicly-traded UK companies to find out which news media companies pay the highest typical salary to their staff.

The Financial Times topped the list of typical employee pay among those surveyed and the BBC was the organisation with the lowest employee to CEO pay ratio – with the director general earning 9.5 times the median salary at the organisation.

To make the list, Press Gazette manually searched through the accounts of 13 publicly-traded UK news media companies that were included in the Press Gazette media rich list as well as Channel 4 and the BBC.

UK public companies must publish a ratio of CEO pay to typical UK employee pay by law. Press Gazette has taken the figure for total remuneration (so including bonuses).  Median pay is the middle pay figure at a company, rather than a straight average.

Our key findings were:

  • Of the media companies surveyed, the Financial Times offered the highest median wage to its staff at £70,000, followed by B2B publishers Euromoney and RELX at £66,8111 and £64,000 respectively, broadcaster Channel 4 at £63,000 and newspaper The Guardian at £61,813
  • Magazine publisher Future recorded one of the lowest median employee pay packages at £36,775, while also recording one of the highest chief executive pay packages in the country.
  • Alongside the BBC, the Guardian and Channel 4 were the next most financially equal news organisations, with their chief executives earning ten and 15.7 times the median salary of employees.

Research methodology

Press Gazette was unable to include data for most privately-owned news media companies because filings on Companies House do not need to include the median salary of employees or the pay ratio between the median employee and the chief executive.

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In the FT’s case, despite being a foreign-owned company that does not disclose median salaries, the outlet previously told Press Gazette that a bonus of £5,600 awarded in December 2021 represented an 8% bonus on the median salary - indicating the average FT employee earns around £70,000.

If you believe any companies have been left out, please let us know by emailing andrew.kersley@pressgazette.co.uk.

Some executives on the list have left their respective companies since these reports came out – including Annette Thomas, who left The Guardian in June 2021 reportedly after a dispute with editor-in-chief Katharine Viner.

Last month, Press Gazette published an analysis of executive pay at news organisations across the UK that found 17 media bosses at 12 companies grossed more than £1m in remuneration last year.

Daily Mail owner DMGT paid the most to its executives, with chairman Lord Rothermere grossing £10.91m, chief executive Paul Zwillenberg paid £9.72m and chief financial officer Tim Collier paid £6.6m in 2021.

Alongside the public companies already mentioned in this article, News UK, Haymarket and Global all also ranked in the top 12 media companies for executive pay.

Despite running the biggest media organisation in the UK, BBC director-general Tim Davie’s £525,000 salary put him 34th on the list of 50 media executives.

Several companies have published more recent annual reports since our rich list was published, including ITV, in which case the most recent figures were used.

Pictures: Reuters, Future, Suzanne Plunkett, The Guardian, Reach, Channel 4,

Pictured, from the top left: BBC director general Tim Davie, Future chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne, FT chief executive John Ridding, former Guardian chief executive Annette Thomas, Reach chief executive Jim Mullen and Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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