Gary Lineker is BBC’s best-paid star again, but women close gap

July 13, 2019

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.

Graphic showing the BBC’s highest earners

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.

Table of salaries of BBC presenters

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.

Zoe Ball is the BBCs highest-paid woman. Photograph: Sarah Jeynes/BBC

The corporation has struggled with pay since it was forced to disclose the salaries of all staff who are paid more than 150,000 a year. The first annual disclosure in 2017 exposed the radical differences in salaries between many leading on-air men and women.

Since then, many leading BBC men have been shamed into taking substantial pay cuts, with the salary of the outgoing Today programme presenter John Humphrys falling by 110,000. Radio 2s Steve Wright cut his pay by 75,000 and Jeremy Vine took a 150,000 reduction.

However, a handful of male presenters such as Chris Evans who took home 8,500 a time for presenting the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show have instead chosen to leave the corporation.

The BBCs highest-paid woman is Zoe Ball, the new Radio 2 breakfast show host, who took home 370,000 in the 12 months to April but will be paid less than Evans. Other female high earners include Claudia Winkleman, Vanessa Feltz and Lauren Laverne.

Graphic showing how many people are in each wage bracket at the BBC

The Womans Hour presenter Jane Garvey told the Today programme that perhaps it would have been better to cut more male salaries rather than to up some female salaries. I absolutely get that.

The BBCs overall gender pay gap decreased from 7.6% in 2018 to 6.7%, substantially better than many other media organisations. The gender pay gap at the Guardians parent company was 8.4% last year, compared with 18.4% at the Financial Times and 23.4% at the Daily Telegraph.

The BBC Women group urged caution and pointed to many continuing pay disputes. There has been some progress in the last two years, but many women at all levels of the BBC are locked into slow, inefficient and demoralising internal processes, it said.

New equal-pay cases are still emerging and staff are yet to have confidence that pay inequality is in the past.

Lauren Laverne is one of the BBCs female high earners. Photograph: Dean Chalkley/BBC/Dean Chalkley

In a press conference, Hall was also asked about the accusation of bias made by Boris Johnson, who renamed the BBC as the Brexit-bashing corporation.

He said in response: The BBC is doing a fantastic job in actually describing to the public the choices being made on their behalf about Brexit. You can ask no more of the BBC than that.

The BBCs annual pay disclosures only cover staff who earn 150,000 a year while working directly for the corporation.

They do not include presenters and actors who are employed by independent production companies to make programmes on the BBCs behalf. As a result, many prominent figures associated with major BBC programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear and Doctor Who which are made by the commercial BBC Studios arm do not feature on the list.

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