The BBC revealed the salaries of its top stars Wednesday, with presenters Chris Evans and Gary Lineker among the highest earners. The public broadcaster was forced by the British government to publish the names and numbers in its annual report, and as expected, the data showed that most of the big earners are men, fueling a debate on the gender gap at the BBC.
Evans (pictured), who has worked across radio and TV for the BBC, was the highest-earning star and the only one in the £2,220,000 to £2,249,999 bracket. (The figures are banded in £50,000 increments.) Evans placed above talk-show host Graham Norton, who earned between £850,000 and £899,999.
The top-earning woman at the BBC was presenter Claudia Winkleman, in the £450,000 to £499,999 bracket, significantly behind a number of male stars; Evans’ salary is at least four times that of Winkleman’s. Her “Strictly Come Dancing” co-host, Tess Daly, was in the £350,000 to £399,999 bracket.
The figures cover what talent was paid during the 2016-17 financial year out of the £3.8 billion that the BBC received in license fees. Not covered are those who work for independent producers that make such BBC shows as “Sherlock” or those working at BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster’s commercial arm.
Lineker, the former soccer player and presenter of “Match of the Day,” was by some distance the top earner in the sports category, making between £1,750,000 and £1,799,999. Wimbledon presenter Sue Barker was the top-earning woman in sports, earning between £300,000 and £349,999.
In entertainment, Alex Jones, presenter of “The One Show,” earned the most, pulling in between £400,000 and £449,999. The highest-earning actor was Derek Thompson in the £350,000 to £399,999 bracket, ahead of Amanda Mealing, who was paid between £250,000 and £299,999. Both star on long-running BBC medical drama “Casualty.”
In news and current affairs, Radio 4 journalist and presenter Eddie Mair topped the list as the only entrant in the £300,000 to £349,000 bracket. Political editor Laura Kuenssberg and presenters Victoria Derbyshire, Martha Kearney, and Mishal Husain were the top women earners in a well-populated £200,000 to £249,999 bracket.
Two-thirds of the stars earning more than £150,000 are men. The BBC Corporation has committed itself to giving equal airtime and pay for women by 2020, and to having 15% black, Asian and other ethnic-minority representation. BBC Director General Tony Hall said the broadcaster was doing more than any of its peers to address the gender imbalance.
Hall has also said that paying competitive salaries is imperative for the BBC to continue to attract top-flight talent.
“The BBC produces some of the nation’s most-loved television and radio and the most trusted news while operating in a competitive market with the likes of Sky, ITV, Netflix and Amazon,” he told reporters Wednesday. “It is widely acknowledged that on the whole the BBC pays less than its competitors while delivering high-quality and award winning content.”
Hall added that the amount spent on talent is coming down. “We have significantly reduced the total bill spent on paying talent, down again this year by 2.5%,” he said. “The bill for top talent is down 10% year on year, and down by a quarter over the last five years.”
The BBC had published the salaries of top talent before, but without names attached. This is the first time the broadcaster has named all those earning more than £150,000. The BBC had fought against disclosing the figures, arguing that it would have an inflationary effect – a sentiment echoed by some commercial rivals, including Sky – but the government of Prime Minister Theresa May insisted that the information be made public.
(Note: £1.00 = $1.30)