BBC fury erupts over ‘outrageous’ £400k salary for new Head of News – ‘bully boys’ blasted

BBC licensing model savaged as 'completely archaic'

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Rebecca Ryan, director of the Defund the BBC campaign, said the decision to increase the annual salary associated with the role by 15 percent was especially reprehensible. The appointment of 54-year-old ITN chief executive Ms Turness was confirmed on Thursday.

She replaces Fran Unsworth, also 54, who is retiring after four years in the role and leaves the BBC at the end of January, and will be paid £60,000 more than her predecessor.

The level of BBC salaries is a highly sensitive issue, with top earner, Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, picking up £1.3million a year.

Ms Ryan told Express.co.uk: “At a time when the elderly and vulnerable are having to decide between heating, eating or coughing up for the BBC’s bully boys it is outrageous that the role of BBC Head of News has been given a £60,000 pay increase.

“The Telegraph stated on Thursday that ‘Mad Dog’ Deborah Turness played a key role in relaunching Five News, which “broke with tradition by encouraging presenters to perch on their desks rather than sit behind them.

“Perhaps the BBC thinks that achievement is worth almost half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money a year?”

Ms Turness joined NBC News in 2013, becoming the first female president of an American network news division.

She subsequently served as president of the network’s global arm.

Prior to that, she was editor of ITV News for nine years – the first woman to hold the role.

Her appointment came despite speculation that Ms Unsworth’s deputies Jonathan Munro, deputy director of BBC News, and Jamie Angus, senior controller of BBC News output and commissioning, were favourites for the job.

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Speaking after the announcement, Ms Turness said “In the UK and around the world there has never been a greater need for the BBC’s powerful brand of impartial, trusted journalism.

“It is a great privilege to be asked to lead and grow BBC News at a time of accelerated digital growth and innovation, when its content is reaching more global consumers on more platforms than ever before.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “I’m delighted Deborah Turness is joining the BBC as our CEO for BBC News and Current Affairs.

“Deborah brings a wealth of experience, insight, first-class editorial judgment, and a strong track record of delivery.”

He added: “She is a passionate advocate for the power of impartial journalism and a great believer in the BBC and the role we play, in the UK and globally.

“She will do a brilliant job of leading our news and current affairs as we deliver on the BBC’s public service mission in the digital age.”

The BBC said it had renamed the position from director to chief executive to reflect its “ambition to continue to build the BBC’s global news brand and continue to grow its news services”.

Despite Ms Ryan’s criticism, Ms Turness’s appointment was welcomed by several of her journalistic colleagues.

Sian Williams, presenter of 5 News, said on Twitter: “Deborah Turness is awesome.

“We’ve loved having her at ITN – when we were relaunching 5-News she was in the gallery, fizzing with enthusiasm and ideas. You are very lucky to have her, BBCNews.”

Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman tweeted: “Very sad to see Deborah Turness go. She’ll do a great job BBC News. A real trailblazing woman.”

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