Last week, Chris announced on the Radio 2 breakfast show that he was jumping ship to Virgin Radio after 13 years at the station, with his final broadcast on the BBC coming at the end of the year.
BBC director general Tony Hall has now claimed that his decision to leave was motivated by his salary being made public for the past two years.
“In the case of Eddie [Mair, who is also leaving the BBC] and Chris, you really need to ask them,” Tony told a parliamentary select committee (via BBC News). “But undoubtedly, disclosure has been a factor in their decision to leave.”
He added: “We have to recognise we’re not going to attract people at the kind of mega sums others in the commercial sphere might be able to pay.”
As part of a new government initiative, the BBC is now required to release the salaries of any of its employees earning more than £150,000 a year, which they did for the first time in 2017.
That year, Chris was revealed to be the top-earning broadcaster at the BBC, while 12 months later, he occupied the number two spot, behind ‘Match Of The Day’ host Gary Lineker.
Chris previously said of his decision to leave the BBC: “As Sir Terry said before me, there’s never a right time to leave something you love but there might be a wrong time if you hang on too long.
“I honestly think The Breakfast Show is currently as positive, useful, sunny and inclusive as it has ever been. In fine shape for its next custodian. Whoever that turns out to be, I wish them all the very best, they are in for an absolute blast.”
Virgin boss Richard Branson has also spoken out to dismiss the idea that Chris’ decision was motivated by a pay increase, insisting he was attracted to “freedom, not salary”.