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LONDON (Reuters) - The number of senior managers at the BBC earning more than 150,000 pounds ($192,555) a year has risen despite a promise by the publicly-funded broadcaster to cut the figure by a fifth, Britain's spending watchdog said on Wednesday.
The National Audit Office said there were 98 members of staff earning such salaries in March 2016 compared to January 2012 when there were just 89, even though the BBC had committed itself to a 20 percent reduction.
It also said the BBC had failed to reduce the number of senior managers to 1 percent of the workforce by 2015, with the figure at 1.6 percent in December 2016.
Last year the government said the BBC, funded by a licence fee imposed on all TV-watching homes, would be subject to external regulation for the first time in its history amid criticism it had become bloated, inefficient and wasteful of public money.
Overall, the BBC, which employs an average of 18,920 full-time staff, had reduced the cost of its payroll by 6 percent in real terms from 2010-11 to 2015-16 to 862 million pounds, the NAO said. Its report said the BBC had also made 3,400 staff redundant over this period at a cost of 190 million pounds.
In response to the NAO report, the BBC said it would finish a review of senior manager grades in the coming months and expected the number in its leadership group to make up less than 1 percent of the workforce.
"We will continue to manage the paybill carefully and only award salary levels that are appropriate whilst ensuring we can still attract the right senior talent in a highly competitive marketplace," it said in a statement.
($1 = 0.7790 pounds)
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge