LONDON — The BBC has just published how much its 96 biggest stars get paid.
The glut of information, made public alongside its 2016/17 annual report, reveals that the BBC’s five best-paid TV and radio names are:
- Chris Evans: £2.2 million-£2.25 million
- Gary Lineker: £1.75 million-£1.8 million
- Graham Norton: £850,000-£900,000
- Jeremy Vine: £700,000-£750,000
- John Humphrys: £600,000-£650,000
All 96 stars on the list earn more than £150,000 a year, which is the same salary as Prime Minister Theresa May.
Precise pay cheques have not been published. Instead, household names are categorised into £50,000 bands, giving us a pretty good idea of how much they take home, if not the whole picture.
The full list is pictured below, while a more detailed run-down of the BBC’s 20 best-paid stars is available here.
The disclosure is not the whole picture. It does not include stars paid through commercial arm BBC Worldwide, such as “Top Gear” host Matt LeBlanc, or those who work for the broadcaster through independent production companies. So, for example, we don’t know how much Benedict Cumberbatch makes for playing Sherlock Holmes.
This also means that the full earnings of some stars are not listed. Graham Norton’s pay, for example, is likely to be much higher, but because he probably pockets some of the production fee for “The Graham Norton Show” from his production company So Television, this is not captured in the BBC list.
The huge gender pay gap
The disclosure has, however, blown open a damaging subplot for the BBC, exposing a huge gender pay gap. Only a third, or 34, of the BBC’s 96 highest earning stars are women.
The broadcaster’s best-paid woman is “Strictly Come Dancing” presenter Claudia Winkleman, who collects an annual salary of between £450,000 and £500,000. This is two bands higher than her co-host Tess Daly, who takes home between £350,000 and £400,000, although Winkleman does have a Radio 2 show.
The second highest paid woman is “The One Show” host Alex Jones, who makes anything from £400,000 to £450,000.
Compare this to the highest earning man, Chris Evans, who takes home around £2.5 million for hosting the Radio 2 breakfast show and “Top Gear” last year.
BBC director general Tony Hall admitted this pay gap is not good enough and said the organisation must get better. “The disclosures highlight the need to go further and faster on issues of gender and diversity,” he told staff on Tuesday, according to an internal memo seen by Business Insider.
Overall, the BBC pointed to progress it has made to cut its talent bill.
It paid presenters and actors £194 million in the 12 months to the end of March this year, which was down 2% on £198 million the previous year. Within this, the bill for top talent (those who earn more than £150,000) was down 10% to around £28.6 million year-on-year.
The BBC signed off on around 43,000 talent contracts over the course of its financial year. Less than a quarter of 1% were paid more than £150,000, the broadcaster said.
The BBC says its needs to spend millions on stars
Hall was unapologetic for spending big on stars. “We need to employ the very best,” he told staff on Tuesday. “Talented people in front of the camera or microphone are critical for our relationship with audiences.”
He added that the BBC does not take its duty to spend public money “lightly,” making clear: “We’re not afraid to walk away if money becomes an issue.”
The BBC is publishing star pay after the government asked it to be more transparent about the way it spends its £3.7 billion income from TV licence fee payers.
The BBC tried to fight off the transparency measures. Director general Hall said it could lead to inflation in star pay and “will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love.”
But the government prevailed last year as part of negotiations to renew the BBC’s 11-year operating agreement, known as its Royal Charter.