Many female stars have had pay rises, while male news presenters have taken cuts
Gary Lineker has maintained his status as the BBCs highest earner after the broadcasters leading male sports presenters refused to take pay cuts, although many of the corporations foremost women have had substantial wage increases.
The Match of the Day host took home 1.75m from the corporation last year, while his fellow pundit Alan Shearer was paid 440,000. Other highly paid sports pundits include Jermaine Jenas on 210,000 a year and Ian Wright on 205,000, while John McEnroe is paid 190,000 for taking part in the BBCs Wimbledon coverage.
While many leading male news and current affairs presenters including Huw Edwards, Jeremy Vine and Nicky Campbell took substantial pay cuts following a public outcry over their salaries, the sports department instead increased the amount it pays to on-screen pundits such as Shearer and Wright in the past year.
The BBC director general, Tony Hall, defended Linekers salary and said he provided value for money for viewers.
Every time contracts come up, we look at them, we negotiate hard with people, he said. But Gary does an excellent job. We have 2% of sport hours and just under 40% of the audiences for sport in this country. A huge amount of that is to do with our sports team.
The figures, contained in the corporations annual report, will come under increased scrutiny after the BBC announced plans to scrap the free TV licence for most over-75s, arguing it needed the money to protect investment in programming.
The BBC chairman, David Clementi, blamed the government for the licence fee decision. This was not a decision we wanted to take and it was a decision we were required to take by legislation, he said.
Clementi also said it was nonsense to suggest cutting the salaries of leading stars would cover the cost of providing the benefit to over-75s, saying: The sums dont add up.
He insisted the corporation did not overpay senior staff. On management, there is absolutely no evidence we are paying our excellent people above the market. All the evidence is the reverse, Clementi said.
The total amount the BBC paid all on-air talent rose by almost 11m in the past year to 158.6m.
With market conditions in the media industry tough, the BBC also hired more than 1,000 new staff, taking the number to 19,231. In total, the number of employees at the corporation, including in commercial operations such as BBC Studios, grew from 21,431 to 22,401.
The increase in staff came despite annual income dropping by nearly 200m from 5.06bn to 4.88bn. Income from the licence fee fell 3.7% year on year to 3.69bn, mainly due to the phased reduction in government funding of free TV licences for over-75s.