19/07/2017 10:54 BST | Updated 19/07/2017 17:11 BST

BBC Top Earners' Salaries Including Chris Evans, Gary Lineker And Graham Norton Reveal Huge Gender Pay Gap

Campaigners question whether this exposes institutional sexism on public airwaves.

A huge gender pay gap exists among the best known and highest paid BBC presenters, the corporation was forced to reveal today.

The move to publish salaries above £150,000 a year paid for by the licence fee has exposed a huge disparity in pay between the corporation’s top male and female talent.

The new figures show the top four male presenters across the BBC were collectively paid almost four times the total amount of the top four female presenters.

BBC Top Earners

The highest paid male BBC star was Chris Evans, who took home pay of at least £2.24m last year.

He was joined by Gary Lineker (at least £1.75m), Graham Norton (£850,000), and Jeremy Vine (£700,000).

Meanwhile, the top female earners were ‘Strictly’ host Claudia Winkleman (at most £499,999), the ‘One Show’s’ Alex Jones (at most £449,999), Fiona Bruce and Tess Daly (both at most £399,999).

PA Wire/PA Images
Evans, who fronts the popular BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, is the BBC's highest paid star

Asked if he was ashamed by the pay gap exposed by today’s figures, Director General Tony Hall told a press conference on Wednesday: “I’d say I am reinvigorated in achieving equality by 2020 between men and women.”

Asked whether the revelation of a gender pay gap will mean the list becomes a “lawyer’s charter” for those women who challenge the disparity in pay, Hall said the BBC would continue to talk to its top talent.

Just nine women earned over £250,000 while 25 men earned that amount.

The annual report also reveals:

  • A £50k difference in pay between ‘One Show’ presenters Matt Baker and Alex Jones
  • A £200,000 difference in pay for BBC News presenters Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce
  • Sports presenter Gary Lineker earned eight times as much as colleague Gabby Logan

Of those considered “multi-genre” presenters, such as Evans, the top four male presenters earned at least three and half times the top amount earned by four women in the category.

PA Archive/PA Images
The new figures reveal Jeremy Vine as the forth highest earner from the licence fee

Norton, Vine, John Humphrys (at most £649,999), Huw Edwards (at most £599,999), and Evans were paid, collectively, at least £4.35m last year.

Yet their “multi-genre” colleagues Winkleman, Jones, Bruce and Zoe Ball (at least £250,000) earned, collectively, at most £1.19m last year. 

Sports presenter Gary Lineker was paid at least £1.75m last year - with the highest earning female sports presenter, Sue Barker paid, at most, £349,999.

Gabby Logan was paid, at most, £249,999.

The figures also reveal a potential pay gap of up to £50,000 on the ‘One Show’ sofa.

A potential pay gap of up to £50,000 exists between Alex Jones (£449,999) and Matt Baker (£499,999)

Presenter Alex Jones was paid at most £449,999, while the same figure for her male colleague Matt Baker was £499,999.

In another example, Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, earned less than her predecessor, Nick Robinson, who now presents Radio 4′s flagship ‘Today’ programme.

Kuenssberg earned at minimum, £200,000 last year, while Robinson, a BBC veteran, earned a maximum of £299,999 - a difference of at least 25%.

PA Archive/PA Images
Laura Kuenssberg has been revealed to be one to the top paid BBC presenters, but her pay isn't as high as some of her male colleagues

Kuenssberg is placed in the same band of earnings as ‘Daily Politics’ presenter Andrew Neil, despite the latter appearing on the airwaves much less frequently.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive: “BBC high pay data revealed today shows that women are under-represented and undervalued at the top of the corporation.

“The question the BBC has to answer is can this be objectively justified or does this reveal instirutional sexism?

“We welcome Tony Hall’s commitment to close the gender pay gap by 2020. Fawcett will hold him to that and we stand ready to help.” 

Legal action

Ruth Gamble, of employment solicitors BDBF, said women paid less for the same work at the BBC could now launch legal action.

“If the BBC’s list of salaries shows that a female presenter on a primetime show is being paid less than a male presenter on the same show or a similar one, they have the makings of a good sex discrimination or equal pay claim.

“To defeat such a claim, the BBC would have to demonstrate that there is an explanation for the difference, which has nothing to do with gender.

“It will not be an easy argument.”

The question the BBC has to answer is can this be objectively justified or does this reveal instirutional sexism?

On the ‘Today’ programme alone, the figures expose differences between the lead presenters.

Humphrys earns at least almost as much as the other presenters put together. Humphrys’ minimum £600,000 haul dwarfs that of Robinson, Michel Husain (at least £200,000), James Naughtie, Justin Webb (both at least £150,000). 

Their colleague, presenter Sarah Montague, did not appear on the BBC’s release, meaning she earned less than the £150,000 threshold.

Lord Hall said of the disparity on ‘Today’: “I don’t want to talk about individuals when it comes to the Today programme, but let me just say you would be wrong to say that the lowest paid member of the presenting team is a woman.

“Leave it at that.”

EMPICS Entertainment
John Humphrys is the BBC's fifth highest earner, dwarfing his 'Today' show colleagues

There were other notable absences from the report.

David Dimbleby’s pay for presenting events such as election night did not reach the £150,000 threshold.

PA Wire/PA Images
David Dimbleby was absent from the report. 'Question Time' is produced by an independent production company

‘More transparent’

The government said the requirement to disclose top salaries would make the BBC “more transparent”.

The figures relate only to salaries paid by the BBC licence fee. As such, the true earnings of stars like Norton, whose production company also makes his eponymous BBC1 show, are not fully revealed.

Likewise, stars like Matt LeBlanc, who helms the new ‘Top Gear’, are paid by BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm, and not subject to transparency.

Nonetheless, speaking to BBC staff last night, Director General Lord Tony Hall addressed the gender gap.

“At the moment, of the talent earning over £150,000 – two thirds are men and one third are women. Is that where we want to be?  No,” he said.

“Are we pushing further and faster than any other major broadcaster?  Most certainly.”

The corporation has been under sustained pressure to increase transparency over pay.

Two thirds are men and one third are women. Is that where we want to be? No

In 2015, David Cameron ordered the BBC to disclose stars’ salaries over £450,000 - nine stars in total.

But Theresa May lowered the threshold to £150,000 last year - which includes 96 television and radio presenters - referred to in the industry as “talent”.

It was a measure the corporation argued vehemently against, saying at the time that the move would create a so-called “poacher’s charter” allowing rivals to snap up undervalued talent.

Hall added in his statement: “We need to employ the very best – stars, great presenters, writers, actors, correspondents – talented people in front of the camera or microphone are critical for our relationship with audiences. 

“They help make the BBC what it is. That’s the business we’re in.” 

They help make the BBC what it is. That’s the business we’re in

Hall urged caution however, adding: “But a word of warning; comparing people’s pay is not straightforward.  Very few do precisely the same thing – people working at the same show may have other – or different - commitments.”

Speaking on LBC radio, May said she wanted to see the BBC “abolish this gender pay gap”, and pointed out “the only reason we know about this though is because the Government required the BBC to publish these figures”.

‘A campaign driven by the Daily Mail’

Claire Enders, a media analyst, told HuffPost UK that the whole issue of BBC stars’ salaries was a campaign driven by the Daily Mail.

“The issue about BBC salaries has been a very long standing campaign - at least 15 years,” she said.

People should look at these figures in terms of the audience share - it is value for money

“That’s really always been part of the Daily Mail’s professed view that public sector broadcasting has left-wing bias and Brexit bias, that the BBC is in a world of its own, and that it talks down to people who read the Daily Mail.

“The argument as far as I can tell is that people should work for nothing or practically nothing for the privilege of working for the BBC - but this isn’t something they apply to themselves.”

The BBC reached 95% of all UK adults on average each week last year, according to the new annual report.

It’s an achievement which might explain some of the salaries published today, Enders said.

“People should look at these figures in terms of the audience share - licence fee payers don’t have to sit through ads, they get high quality - this is value for money.”

Robin Lustig, a former Radio 4 presenter, told HuffPost UK that the BBC should not be singled out.

It’s a real shame that again the BBC ends up as the media’s favourite whipping boy

“Of course I understand why people are curious to know how much their favourite BBC presenters earn, but it’s ridiculous to insist that the BBC release the details while other broadcasters don’t,” Lustig, who would not feature on the list were he employed by the corporation today, said.

“The only really interesting figures would be comparative salaries across channels, not forgetting that BBC presenters often work for more than one programme. And it’d certainly be interesting to know the salary of every commentator and columnist who rips into the BBC.

“It’s a real shame that again the BBC ends up as the media’s favourite whipping boy, while the truth is that it provides the most fantastic value for money.”