Simon Cowell highest earner on US TV

Simon Cowell is officially the king of US television, according to a survey.

The acerbic American Idol judge has topped a new list of the biggest earners on the small screen, earning $50 million a year for the talent show.

Chat show host David Letterman comes next, earning $32 million, beating fellow late-night presenter Jay Leno, who makes $27 million, according to the list in the latest issue of TV Guide.

And Simon’s fellow Idol host Ryan Seacrest didn’t fare too badly either, earning around $29 million, although that figure includes income from other TV work and his radio show.

Singer-actress Miley Cyrus, 15, also made the list with her earnings of $25 million for her role as Hannah Montana.

And Charlie Sheen is listed as the highest paid actor in prime time, raking in more than $18 million a year from his star role on Two And A Half Men.

Other actors on TV Guide’s annual pay survey list include CSI’s William Petersen (Gil Grissom), Kiefer Sutherland (24’s Jack Bauer), and the five stars who provide voices for The Simpsons.

Simon will soon be back on UK screens as a judge on The X Factor, which returns to ITV1 on Saturday August 16.