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Three Women Break Into Roster of BBC’s Top Earners

There are three women in the BBC’s roster of top-earning talent for the first time. Radio presenter Zoe Ball tops the list, earning up to £374,999 ($473,000). The U.K. pubcaster said there was “rapid and real change” in the gender split of its top-earners since it was first required by government to publish figures in 2016/17.

Ball’s earnings still paled in comparison to overall top-earners such as sports presenter Gary Lineker who raked in £1.75 million ($2.2 million), and TV and radio presenter Chris Evans with £1.25 million ($1.6 million).

Ball featured in the top 10 alongside “Strictly Come Dancing” presenter Claudia Winkleman, on £374,999 (but ranked lower than Ball because the latter has not been in her current role for a full year). Winkleman was the highest female earner last year, but not previously in the top 10. Radio presenter Vanessa Feltz also made the list, with earnings of £359,999.

The women figure toward the bottom of the top 10, and behind the likes of Graham Norton on £614,999, newscaster Huw Edwards on £494,999, radio presenter Steve Wright on £469,999, sportscaster Alan Shearer on £444,999, and political journalist Andrew Marr on £394,999. Edwards is among the men to have taken pay cuts as the BBC sought to reduce the gender pay gap.

The figures shed light on how much the U.K.’s biggest broadcaster pays its talent, but are only part of the picture as it is not required to disclose the wages of talent paid through production companies, or the pubcaster’s own production and distribution arm BBC Studios.

Director general Tony Hall said the gender split among talent earning over £150,000 has shrunk from 75%-25% in favor of men in 2016/17 to 55%-45% in 2019/20. “Last year there were there were no women in the top 10, this year there are three,” he said. “This is rapid change.”

Shows in which the top talent appear account for 40% of viewing and listening across the BBC. The pubcaster said its total spend on in-house talent was £159 million, a £10 million increase year-on-year, and the government, responding to the report, said “the rising talent bill is concerning.” Hall said the BBC was keeping a lid on costs.  “In a world of global media giants with deep pockets, which is driving super inflation in the market, we have bucked the inflation trend, by keeping spend on top talent and the highest paid senior managers to 0.5% each out of our total spend,” Hall said.

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