The BBC is today being forced to admit that nearly 100 of its stars are paid more than the Prime Minister. For the first time, the corporation will have to say which of its household names are on more than £150,000 a year. One is paid up to 2 million Pounds a year.
The stars have been warned to expect public anger over the huge sums. There will also be allegations of sexism – only a third of the high earners are women – and a backlash from staff on lower salaries.
The corporation’s annual report is expected to reveal that Gary Lineker is one of its highest paid stars
Chris Evans is also among the highest paid stars at the BBC. In a bid to limit the damage, BBC boss Lord Hall has sent a video message to all staff reminding them that their salaries are large sums to most licence fee payers.
‘We are dealing with the public’s money,’ he said. ‘This is not something we can take lightly.’
The BBC fought tooth and nail against a government order to publish the figures. It then tried to delay their release, Daily Mail reports today.
In a sign of further panic, stars have been told they can defend their pay on social media – breaking with normal BBC protocol. Bosses have warned every staffer on £150,000 or more that their details will be published and in some against the public reaction.
The corporation’s annual report is expected to reveal that:
- Gary Lineker and Chris Evans are among the biggest earners;
- The gender pay gap is even worse for older stars;
- Sports presenters are some of the highest paid;
- 306 senior managers earn more than £42million between them.
The meetings have fuelled jealousy among other presenters who are now demanding why they are not paid similar sums.
It is understood that today’s figures will show that the BBC’s overall bill for on screen and on air talent – not just those earning more than £150,000 – was £194 million last year.
However, it will argue that the bill for top talent – those on £150,000 or more – has fallen by a tenth in a year, and a quarter over the five years
Lord Hall cautioned staff against making comparisons: ‘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.’
In a bid to limit the damage, BBC boss Lord Hall has sent a video message to all staff reminding them that their salaries are large sums to most licence fee payers
However, he apologised to staff for the startling difference in pay for men and women: ‘Of the talent earning over £150,000 – two thirds are men and one third are women. Is that where we want to be? No. Are we pushing further and faster than any other major broadcaster? Most certainly.’
Marr’s BBC pay deal cut by £140,000
Andrew Marr had his pay cut by a quarter
Andrew Marr had his pay cut by a quarter after he scaled back on work following his stroke.
The BBC host earns £400,475 a year – £140,000 less than he was paid before his stroke in 2013.
He also receives a financial boost from royalties from a dozen books – including bestsellers linked to BBC programmes he has hosted, such as History of the World.
Marr, who fronts a Sunday morning BBC1 politics programme and Radio 4’s Start The Week, accepted a lower salary when his pay deal came up for renewal in 2015.
The former BBC political editor was left partially paralysed down his left side after suffering a stroke in January 2013. He returned to his Sunday morning show nine months later.
However, the 57-year-old has decided to cut down on extra shows alongside his regular programmes, in order to prevent a relapse. The journalist said recently that the BBC’s pay disclosures would be ‘uncomfortable’ for all those affected.
His deal, pushing him into the BBC’s £400,000 to £450,000 band by a whisker, runs until 2018.
The difference in pay for men and women presenting programmes together is likely to cause the greatest uproar. A very senior source said: ‘One of the issues here is the massive gender gap.’
Another added: ‘It is pretty uncomfortable if two people are sat at the same desk or on the same sofa, and the man is paid more than the woman for what is ostensibly the same job.’
The BBC claimed releasing the figures – in £50,000 salary bands – would make it easier for rivals to poach staff and force up the talent bill.
When it lost the argument, it argued it should have to publish salary details only for people on £450,000 or above.
It also fought to delay publication to buy time to even up the gender pay gap and move staff off its books.
It has to publish salary details for stars it employs directly, including news presenters, the vast majority of radio hosts and other key television stars.
However, some major names such as Graham Norton and Mary Berry will escape the list because presenters employed via a third-party production company will not have their pay disclosed.
The BBC will be able to keep the pay of dozens of its top TV stars a secret in future years because it has spun off its production arm, BBC Studios, as a commercial company subject to the same loophole.
This will be of limited help to the BBC this year when most of its on-screen talent will face the full glare of public scrutiny.
One ministerial source told the Mail: ‘They have resisted this all the way. They have fought against it tooth and nail.’
Lord Tony Hall told staff yesterday: ‘In all the negotiations with the Government about our Royal Charter, we said it would be wrong to put the names of our talent against what they’re paid. We do believe in transparency. In fact, we, uniquely in the media, have published what we’ve been paying to talent in bands for the last seven years – but without naming them.