By Dominic Ponsford

The BBC has more than 40 journalists who are paid more than the UK prime minister’s £150,000 salary.

At the top end of the scale is Jeremy Vine (pictured) – at five prime ministers – who is rewarded mainly for his talk and DJ duties on Radio 2 in the afternoons. He is also the graphics supremo when it comes to election-night coverage and presents BBC Two quiz show Eggheads.

Next is veteran Radio 4 Today presenter John Humphrys, who also presents Mastermind, and is on four PMs at £600,000 to £649,999.

While many of those on big money are well-known celebrities, others will come as a surprise.

Stephen Nolan for instance, the BBC Northern Ireland presenter, is paid between £400,000 and £449,999.

James Harding, who heads up the entire news division, is only the seventh best paid journalist at the BBC on £340,000 a year.

Among the best paid reporters working for the BBC are:

  • Political editor Laura Kuenssberg on £200,000-£249,999
  • North America editor Jonathan Sopel on £200,000-£249,999
  • Economics editor Kamal Ahmed on £150,000-£199,999.
  • Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen on £150,000 to £199,999
  • Deputy Political editor John Pienaar on £150,000 to £199,999.

On his own radio show today, Jeremy Vine asked BBC director of radio James Purnell how he justified paying him between £700,000 and £749,999 a year.

Purnell said: “You’re a fantastic broadcaster, you provide a huge public service. Let’s take the last few weeks, you’ve been talking about funeral care and how people were being ripped off for that. That is something that I’m proud to have on the BBC, proud to have in our country and plays a vital role in our democracy.”

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He added: “I think the core point to make is there is a market for the Jeremy Vines, there’s a market for  John Humphrys, there’s a market for Chris Evans, there’s a market for people at the BBC and that is the reality. We are not operating in the same market as people who go and work for the civil service.”

Andrew Marr, who is paid just over £400,000 a year by the BBC, said he has been offered more money by commercial rivals in the past.

He said in a statement: “Following the publication of the BBC’s annual report, I can confirm that I’m paid £400,475 a year. It covers the weekly Sunday morning show, my radio work, documentary commissions, television obituaries, and work on big news events such as elections and the both the Scottish and UK referenda coverage.

“It’s less, of course, than the £600,000 I was widely reported to be earning a couple of years ago; or indeed the £3 million a year Daily Telegraph claimed I was paid. As the BBC moves to deal with highly paid employees, my salary has been coming down. I now earn £139,000 a year less than I did two years ago.

“In the past I have been offered deals by the BBC’s commercial rivals at a higher rate than the corporation would pay.”

Daily Politics host Andrew Neil told viewers of Wednesday’s programme: “The BBC has published details of the salaries of onscreen talent, which you may be surprised to know includes me – as on screen talent.”

BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker defended receiving a higher salary than co-presenter Louise Minchin, saying the pair were paid “exactly the same” for their work on the morning show, but that he had another job presenting Football Focus.

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BBC world affairs editor John Simpson, who was revealed to earn between £150,000 and £199,999 a year, said on Twitter today: “Why does the government actively seek to damage the BBC, one of the few things the world admires about the UK at present, with this pointlessness?

He added: “Ofcom poll last week showed many more people satisfied with BBC’s programmes than those of ITV, Channel 4 & Sky. Didn’t see that in anti-BBC press.”

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