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MPs slam C4's salary paid to Andy Duncan

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Andy Duncan
A committee of MPs has criticised the "unacceptably high" salary paid by Channel 4 to its former chief executive Andy Duncan.

Published today, a report by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee slams the "indefensible" salaries previously paid to top management at the publicly-owned broadcaster.

Duncan announced that he was leaving Channel 4 in September 2009, after five years at the helm. The MPs said that they were "struck" by his final year remuneration at Channel 4, which reached a grand total of £1.48 million.

They also said that Channel 4 was "wrong" to pay Duncan a loyalty bonus of £225,000 for meeting performance criteria and staying with the broadcaster for a minimum of two years.

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

"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."

Channel 4 paid £3.85 million in salaries, bonuses and benefits to 14 executive and non-executive board members in 2009, up from £3.42 million in the previous year.

The MPs noted that Channel 4's new management team of chairman Lord Burns and chief executive David Abraham has taken steps to reduce salaries. However, they said that they would continue to "keep a close eye" on senior remuneration levels at the broadcaster.

Elsewhere, the report warned that Channel 4 could struggle to maintain its financially independent status given the increasingly volatile UK advertising market.

"We would not rule out re-examining Channel 4's funding regime in the medium term if, despite its best efforts, advertising revenues were to drop significantly," the MPs said.

Last month, Lord Burns expressed concern about a piece of government legislation currently going through parliament which he fears could threaten Channel 4's independence.

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