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Jonathan Ross QUITTING BBC After Prank-Call Scandal

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LONDON — One of the BBC's highest-paid television personalities announced Thursday he is leaving the broadcaster, 15 months after he was caught up in a scandal over lewd prank phone calls.

Talk show host Jonathan Ross said he had decided not to renegotiate his contract when it ends in July.

Ross, 49, is one of the BBC's best-known faces, with a salary widely reported at 6 million pounds ($9.5 million) a year. The BBC won't confirm that figure.

His improvisational wit and off-color jokes have won him many fans – and many critics, who feel his routines cross the line into tastelessness.

In October 2008 Ross and comedian Russell Brand were suspended by the corporation after leaving crude phone messages on the answering machine of actor Andrew Sachs, best known for playing Spanish waiter Manuel in 1970s sitcom "Fawlty Towers."

The calls drew thousands of complaints.

Ross hosts a late-night talk show, a movie program and a weekend radio show. He said his decision was not financially motivated.

The BBC has been under pressure to reduce the high fees it gives top talent because it is a public broadcaster and the salaries are, in effect, paid by the taxpayer.

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