ABC boss Mark Scott apologises for release of staff salary information

Mark Scott

Mark Scott

Managing director of the ABC Mark Scott has apologised for the release of confidential payroll information on staff salaries published in The Australian today and called for an investigation into how it was obtained.

The internal payroll information reported by the newspaper is reported to have been obtained through a internal leak, after years of pursuing freedom of information requests from News Corp Australia.

The article claims it the public broadcaster is paying eight of its on air talent an annual salary of more than $250,000, with Lateline host Tony Jones “leading the pack on an annual salary of more than $350,000”.

However in an email to staff today, Scott said some of the information in the article is inaccurate while other parts are out of date and the ABC is still unsure what information has been obtained by the newspaper.

“First and foremost, I want to apologise that information like this has not been securely managed,” Scott said. “Staff are entitled to be concerned and upset. I have asked for a full and complete investigation about how this highly confidential material was accessed.”

Although Scott accepts the argument taxpayers funding the public broadcaster have a right to know how much ABC staff are paid, the ABC had successfully argued in the Senate that the matter was more complicated and stressed the ABC is already meeting all of its legal requirements on remuneration reporting through its annual report.

He said: “Whilst the public might be curious about what particularly on-air talent earn, the ABC operates in a highly competitive media environment. For the ABC to be the only media organisation where salaries are revealed puts us at a significant disadvantage to our competitors.

“Aside from staffing matters, the ABC has many contractual matters around the provision of goods and services that are confidential, because public disclosure would be damaging to the ABC and put us at a disadvantage to everyone else. It would hurt our ability to manage the ABC efficiently and effectively. This seems uncontroversial.”

As successfully argued in the Senate, Scott maintains high profile talent at the ABC are not overpaid compared to their commercial counterparts.

“I expect that if any organisation’s payroll was revealed, it would raise queries and questions,” he said. “In some roles, particularly those with competitive market pressures, there are many reasons that go into setting a particular remuneration level.”


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