Mystery surrounds the position of the BBC’s star regional presenter Christa Ackroyd who has now been missing from the flagship news programme Look North for five weeks.
The BBC has declined to explain why the presenter, who is understood to be paid in excess of £150,000 a year, has not been on screen or to say if or when she is scheduled to return.
Several sources have indicated Ms Ackroyd and the BBC are wrangling over a new contract, with the corporation unwilling and unable to continue paying the current salary in an era of major cuts to public spending.
However it is understood the presenter’s absence is not directly related to a breakdown in contract negotiations.
It is not known whether Ms Ackroyd has been required to stay away from work by the BBC. A spokeswoman would only say: ”Christa is still working at the BBC, but is currently off air.”
A BBC insider told the Yorkshire Post: “Staff here would like to know why she’s not been on air, we’ve been given no official explanation. It’s understood it’s not her choice but we’re not being told what’s going on.”
Ms Ackroyd is employed on a freelance basis and it is believed her existing contract is due to end later this year. The BBC insider said it was highly unlikely she would be able to maintain her current pay level given the scale of cuts facing the broadcaster.
The presenter did not respond to a request to comment yesterday.
Ms Ackroyd, 55, has presented Look North for more than a decade after joining the BBC from Yorkshire Television’s rival regional news programme Calendar in 2001.
She joined another long-standing presenter Harry Gration to form a popular broadcasting partnership which has contributed to Look North consistently attracting higher viewer numbers than its commercial rival.