Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, pays its top male star five times more than its best-paid female presenter, it revealed on Wednesday after bowing to the government’s demand to publish the salaries of its highest earners.
Reaching 95 percent of British adults every week and a global audience of 372 million, the BBC is a prized national asset but faces intense scrutiny over spending as its funding comes from a fee levied on TV viewers.
Its list of on-air employees earning at least 150,000 pounds ($195,555) numbered 96 people, two-thirds of them men, most earning more than women doing similar work.
Highest paid was Chris Evans, the presenter of Britain’s most popular breakfast radio show who also hosted motoring programme “Top Gear” for one series, receiving up to 2.25 million pounds in 2016/17.
The highest paid woman was entertainment presenter Claudia Winkleman, who earned less than half a million pounds for her work on “Strictly Come Dancing” and other shows.
The list includes 96 actors, presenters, journalists and panellists who were paid more than £150,000 in the last financial year. The BBC fought against the list being published but was forced to by the government as part of its new 11-year royal charter.
The top earner of the broadcaster was radio host Chris Evans who earns £2.25m.
Gary Lineker was second on the list of the highest-paid, earning around £1.75m.
The five other stars earning salaries of more than half a million are chat show host Graham Norton (£850,000-£899,999), radio presenter Jeremy Vine (£850,000-£899,999), Today host John Humphrys (£850,000-£899,999), BBC News’ Huw Edwards (£550-£599,999) and long-time Radio 2 fixture Steve Wright (£500,000-£549,999).
The list reveals a huge gender imbalance among the BBC’s top earners. Only two women – Claudia Winkleman, who presents Strictly Come Dancing, and Alex Jones, presenter of the One Show – are listed as earning more than £400,000 compared with 12 men.
Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, earns between £200,000 and £249,999 – less than PM host Eddie Mair, who earns between £300,000 and £349,999.
Clare Balding, the sports presenter, received £150,999 to £199,999, around a tenth of Lineker’s pay and less than fellow presenters John Inverdale and Jason Mohammad, who earn more than £200,000 and £250,000 respectively.
There are also some high-profile female absentees from the list. Emily Maitlis, the newsreader, Sarah Montague, the presenter of the Today programme on Radio 4, and Louise Minchin, who presents BBC Breakfast, do not earn more than £150,000 a year according to the disclosure.
May is pleased
British Prime Minister Theresa May is pleased the national broadcaster has published the salaries of its top earners and agrees that a pay gap between male and female workers must be tackled, her spokesman said on Wednesday.
Her spokesman told reporters that the prime minister wanted the BBC to continue to publish the salary information after the broadcaster came under pressure to show how it uses funds provided by a licence fee on TV-watching households.
“We are very pleased that the BBC have published this information today,” he said.
“As BBC Director General Tony Hall has said, it has thrown up some interesting information with regards to the gender pay cap that he wants to see tackled, we agree we also want to see it tackled and we think that in order for that to happen this is a very important tool in being able to do that.