BBC under fire for gender pay gap as top salaries revealed
London: Britain’s public broadcaster BBC came under fire on Wednesday for its gender pay imbalance after it was forced to reveal how much it pays its top-earning talent.
For the first time in its 94-year existence, the BBC was this year forced to release a list of its employees paid more than £150,000 ($195,000, €170,000) between 2016-2017, after a change in its charter last year.
More than 200 names feature on the list—which includes executives, actors, presenters, writers and technicians—but only one third are women.
Former Top Gear host Chris Evans was revealed to be the highest-paid person, earning over £2.2 million, while presenter Claudia Winkleman was named as the top female earner, pocketing more than £450,000.
Winkleman hosts Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s version of Dancing With The Stars.
In a statement, the BBC’s director-general Lord Hall defended the organisation as “more diverse than the broadcasting industry and the civil service” but admitted that “there is more to do”.
“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 added.
Culture secretary Karen Bradley told parliament last year that releasing the list would ensure the organisation “produces value for money” for licence fee payers and that more transparency could lead to savings.
Britain’s licence fee, which pays for the BBC, stands at £147 per year.
But Hall defended the organisation’s high salaries, telling BBC radio earlier in the day that it operates in a “very competitive market”.
He argued that the BBC had reduced talent salaries by 25% in the past four years and said publishing the list was a “bad idea” because it could tempt other companies to poach talent.
Questioned on Twitter over his pay, former footballer turned presenter Gary Lineker revealed that he had turned down higher salary offers from a privately owned broadcaster “because I love and value my job and BBC Sport”.
Lineker was the BBC’s second-highest earner last year, pocketing £1.7 million.
Among the other well-known names on the list are ex-tennis professional John McEnroe (more than £150,000) and Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi (over £200,000).
Presenter Graham Norton also appeared on the list for his radio hosting duty for which he pocketed £850,000, but his overall income is believed to be much higher.
The sum did not include his salary for his famous chat show because it is produced by an independent company.