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BBC Claims Progress on Pay for Female Talent as Male Stars Take Pay Cuts

The BBC said the gender split among its top-earning talent is narrowing as top on-air male talent take pay cuts. The announcement Wednesday followed an outcry over salary figures last year that revealed a chasm between top on-air men and women at the British pubcaster.

The Beeb is aiming for a 50-50 split in the proportion of top earners by end-2020. It said Wednesday the gap now stands at 60-40 in favor of men, down from 75-25 two years ago. There were, however, still only two women among the top 20 on-air earners: TV presenter Claudia Winkleman, and radio broadcaster Vanessa Feltz.

The BBC revealed last week that it had closed the gender pay gap across the Corporation, which employs 20,000 people. The talent pay figures released Wednesday apply only to on-air staff whose salaries are funded by the BBC license fee and exceed £150,000 ($198,000). They do not take into account the high earners who work under the banner of BBC Studios, the broadcaster’s commercial production arm. BBC sources say the overall numbers would actually look better if Studios was included in the equation, but their figures are commercially sensitive and so are not broken out.

The Parliamentary committee that oversees media in the U.K. called on the BBC to disclose pay for all of its top on-air names. “There should be full disclosure of all top talent pay from the BBC” said Damian Collins, chair of the committee. He added that “our Committee were disappointed in the figures released…None of the top 10 ten earners are women.”

The pay stats revealed sportscaster Gary Lineker as the BBC’s top-earning TV presenter. Former soccer player Lineker is currently leading the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup and earned up to £1,759,999 ($2.3 million). Claudia Winkleman was the top-earning woman, ranking 13th overall, with upper earnings of £379,999 ($502,000), but that number does not include her pay for presenting hit show “Strictly Come Dancing.”

Veteran newscaster Huw Edwards and high-earning radio presenters John Humphries and Nicky Campbell have all taken pay cuts, the Corporation said. Edwards earns up to £529,999 ($700,000), and Humphries and Andrew Marr up to £409,999 ($541,000). Former “Top Gear” presenter Chris Evans, who was the highest-earning BBC star last year, at up to £2,249,999 ($2.97 million), was down to £1,669,999 ($2.2 million) for his radio work. Another of last year’s big earners, Graham Norton, earned up to £609,999 ($809,124) for radio and TV work for the BBC.

In the executive ranks, director general Tony Hall was the best paid, earning up to £459,999 ($607,000). Addressing the talent pay issue, he said: “What will success look like? It will look like 50-50. I think we have made an amazing amount of progress in a short time.”

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