Tuesday 2 July 2019 12:24 pm

BBC narrows pay gap as it reveals highest-earning presenters

Three women are among the top 10 highest-paid BBC stars for the first time ever as the broadcaster looks to address its gender pay gap.

Claudia Winkleman, Zoe Ball and Vanessa Feltz ranked among the BBC’s top earners with salaries of more than £350,000. Last year no female stars made it into the top 10.

Read more: BBC to scrap free TV licence for millions of over-75s

However, the most lucrative positions are still held predominantly by men.

Ex-footballer and Match of the Day star Gary Lineker has retained the top spot, pulling in an annual salary of roughly £1.75m.

Former Radio 2 breakfast show DJ Chris Evans, who left the BBC last year to join Virgin Radio, still ranked second at around £1.25m.

The BBC has been subject to fierce criticism in recent years after its reports revealed a huge gender disparity among its highest-paid presenters.

The row reached fever pitch last year when China editor Carrie Gracie resigned in protest at alleged pay discrimination, and MPs have criticised the organisation for its “weak” response to the issue.

But this year’s figures showed the BBC has reduced its median gap to 6.7 per cent from 7.6 per cent last year.

BBC director general Tony Hall said the corporation had made “good progress” on reducing its pay gap, but admitted there was more work to be done.

“This is significant change. The task is not complete, we are not complacent, but we are well on our way,” he said.

NamePrimary RolePay
Gary LinekerMatch of the Day £1,750,000-1,754,999
Chris Evans Radio 2 (now left)£1,250,000-1,254,999
Graham NortonThe Graham Norton Show£610,000-614,999
Huw EdwardsBBC News£490,000-494,999
Steve WrightRadio 2£465,000-469,999
Alan ShearerMatch of the Day£440,000-444,999
Andrew MarrThe Andrew Marr Show£390,000-394,999 
Zoe BallRadio 2 £370,000-374,999
Claudia WinklemanTV and radio (various) £370,000-374,999
Vanessa FeltzTV and radio (various)£355,000-359,999

The annual report also revealed newsreader Huw Edwards took home just short of £500,000 last year, while political interviewer Andrew Marr earned just under £400,000.

Today programme host Mishal Husain, BBC Sport star Gaby Logan and DJ Jo Whiley remained among the highest-paid female presenters.

Presenters paid by the organisation’s commercial division BBC Studios were not included in the report.

The public-service broadcaster’s accounts may face additional scrutiny this year after it announced plans to scrap the free TV licence for millions of over-75s.

Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Media and Sport Committee, said: “It is welcome to see more women named on the high earners’ list. However, this masks the wider issue of equal pay across all levels of the BBC workforce.

“The rising talent bill is concerning in light of plans to remove free TV licences from all but the poorest of those over-75.”

Separately, the report showed the BBC is pumping more money into new programming as it contends with increased competition from streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

BBC One spent £1.1bn on content last year, up from £1bn the previous year. However, its audience reach fell from 68.9 per cent of the UK population to 66.7 per cent.

The annual report revealed BBC Studios, the broadcaster’s commercial arm, posted strong returns in its first year following a merger with BBC Worldwide.

BBC Studios brought in revenue of £243m for its parent company, up from £210m the previous year.

Read more: BBC calls on top presenters for Tory leadership race debates

“It has been an excellent year for BBC Studios, both creatively and financially,” said chief executive Tim Davie.

“Two separate subsidiaries have combined swiftly and efficiently to create a new British studio operating on the world stage, able to take ideas seamlessly through funding, creation, distribution and commercialisation.”