The BBC Has Revealed Its Highest Earners And It Will Make You Fume

Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images
By this point, the existence of a gender pay gap in the UK is a given and it's insulting to women to claim otherwise. Thankfully, progress has been made towards greater transparency in pay levels, and one such move was a royal charter forcing the BBC to reveal its top stars' salaries.
Well, the annual report was released today and the figures are at best dispiriting, at worst rage-inducing. Whatever you think of what the stars take home (and compared to other broadcasters it is actually quite modest), the report does reveal a huge disparity between what men and women are paid and stark differences between what white stars receive compared to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) stars.
Only a third of the corporation's highest-paid stars are women and the top seven are all men, with the highest-paid man (Chris Evans, on at least £2.2m last year) earning more than four times more than the top-earning woman (Claudia Winkleman, on at least £450k), the BBC reported. In fact, only two women employed by the corporation, Winkleman and Alex Jones, earn more than £400,000 – compared to 12 men, The Guardian reported.
Other male top earners in 2016/17 included Gary Lineker (on more than £1.75m) and Graham Norton on over £850,000 (not including his earnings from the hugely popular Graham Norton Show).
Aside from Winkleman and Jones, also at the top of the women's list was BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, who takes home between £200,000 and £249,999. Many high-profile women didn't make the list at all, including newsreader Emily Maitlis and Radio 4 Today programme presenter Sarah Montague.
It's often said that women have to perform twice as well as men to be considered half as good, and the BBC report is stark evidence of this. Some of the most glaring examples of the gender pay gap, as highlighted by The Guardian, include the disparity between leading sports presenters Lineker (on more than £1.75m) and national treasure Clare Balding, who earns £150,000 to £199,999.
There is also a major gender gap between the BBC's top newsreaders, with Huw Edwards on £550,000 to £599,999 and Fiona Bruce earning £350,000 to £399,999. The gap between Radio 4 Today programme presenters John Humphrys and Mishal Husain was even more jaw-dropping, even taking into account their different levels of experience. Husain earns just a third of Humphrys' salary, at £200,000 to £250,000 compared to his £600,000 to £649,999, The Guardian pointed out.
The highest-paid BAME stars are George Alagiah, Jason Mohammad and Trevor Nelson, who each earn between £250,000 and £300,000 – considerably less than the highest-paid white men. While the highest-paid BAME woman is Mishal Husain, who earned less than the BAME men at between £200,000 and £250,000.
Critics of the report, including high-profile journalists – who you'd think may have an interest in keeping schtum – and other public figures, didn't hold back on social media. Many also called out the corporation for its "nepotistic system" of hiring talent.
Women's rights campaigners, including Fawcett Society chief executive Sam Smethers, also aired their outrage and said the BBC's report should extend beyond its highest earners to include all staff.
BBC Director General Tony Hall defended both the corporation's pay levels and the gender gap, but he admitted there was "more to do" on gender equality and BAME diversity. He said the corporation was "pushing further and faster than any other broadcaster" and aims to have made improvements by 2020.
“We’ve set a clear target for 2020: we want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women," he said. "It’s already having an impact. If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60% of women and nearly a fifth come from a BAME background," The Guardian reported.
“Meeting our goal on this is going to have a profound impact not just on the BBC, but the whole media industry. It’s going to change the market for talent in this country,” he added. At the very least, there's no shortage of powerful people and organisations who will be holding him to account.

The BBC's top-earning stars in 2017

1. Chris Evans £2.2m - £2.25m
2. Gary Lineker £1.75m - £1.8m
3. Graham Norton £850,0000 - £899,999
4. Jeremy Vine £700,000 - £749,999
5. John Humphrys £600,000 - £649,999
6. Huw Edwards £550,000 - £599,999
7. Steve Wright £500,000 - £549,999
= 8. Claudia Winkleman £450,000 - £499,999
= 8. Matt Baker £450,000 - £499,999
= 9. Nicky Campbell £400,000 - £449,999
= 9. Andrew Marr £400,000 - £449,999
= 9. Stephen Nolan £400,000 - £449,999
= 9. Alan Shearer £400,000 - £449,999
= 9. Alex Jones £400,000 - £449,000
10. Fiona Bruce £350,000 - £399,999

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