Top BBC executives are facing pay cuts after their salaries were labelled ‘toxic by the head of the corportation’s watchdog.

The BBC trust chairman, Lord Pattern has warned that plans to dock the wages of the highest earners will soon be implemented within the next few days.

Moves to dock the wages of the highest earners will be announced within days, warned the head of the corporation’s watchdog.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, he claimed that those on at least £150,000 are to be scrutinised, he said. A total of 74 senior managers earned more than £160,000 in 2009-10, the BBC says.

But those figures do not include packages for executives such as director-general Mark Thompson, who earned a total of £838,000 in 2009-10. He admitted the corporation was finding it ‘extremely hard’ to fill senior roles because of the low wages it pays for management jobs. The BBC has already frozen the salaries of senior staff and its executive board gave up a month’s pay this year and in 2010.

However, Lord Patten said he hoped proposals from the Will Hutton review into fair pay – published in March – could be implemented.

This would include limiting executives’ pay to no more than 20 times that of the lowest paid staff.

Lord Patten added he wanted a ‘more flexible, leaner’ BBC which could live within its £3.5billion budget, which is funded mainly by the £145.50 licence fee.

‘Everybody is having to pull their belts in,’ he said as he warned of possible channel and station closures.