Gary Lineker stays top of BBC star pay list

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Gary LinekerImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Gary Lineker was paid £1.36m for presenting Match of the Day and Sports Personality of the Year

Match of the Day host Gary Lineker has topped a list of the BBC's best-paid stars for a fifth year in a row, taking £1.35m in the last financial year.

That's slightly down on the £1.36m he earned in the previous year, which came after he took a pay cut from £1.75m.

Radio 2 breakfast show host Zoe Ball is second on the new list, with £980,000. She also previously earned more but took a 28% pay cut at the end of 2020.

She's one of three women in this year's top 10, down from four last year.

Fiona Bruce and Vanessa Feltz have also made the cut again, but 6 Music's Lauren Laverne has dropped out of the top 10 after her pay fell by £15,000 to £380,000.

The figures were published in the corporation's latest annual report, which also revealed a sharp drop in the time UK adults spend watching TV every day.

Average viewing dropped from eight hours 11 minutes in 2020/21 to seven hours 12 minutes in 2021/22, although part of that fall may be explained by people watching less than they did during the height of the pandemic. However, iPlayer usage has increased by around 12%.

Meanwhile, 90% of the British population continues to use BBC services each week.

The star salaries list does not include all presenters and actors because the corporation's commercial arm BBC Studios, which makes many of programmes, does not have to publish its talent spend.

So for example, Claudia Winkleman is only listed for her weekly Radio 2 show and not for presenting Strictly Come Dancing, which is made by BBC Studios.

Graham Norton has dropped off the list entirely after he left his Saturday Radio 2 show in December 2020, while the fee for his TV chat show, which is made for BBC One by his commercial company So Television, is not listed.

Seventy-four on-air people earning more than £150,000 were listed this year, with the gender split similar to last year - 41 men (55%) and 33 women (45%). Previous director general Tony Hall had pledged that the gap would be closed by 2020.

Image caption,
Zoe Ball took a £380,000 pay cut, which now puts her in the £980,000-a-year band

Radio 1 breakfast host Greg James is the only new entry in the top 10, with Huw Edwards the only name apart from Lineker in the top 10 to have seen a pay reduction. The news presenter's earnings fell from £425,000 in 2020/21 to £410,000 in 2021/22.

Some had an increase, with Alan Shearer getting a £60,000 pay bump. He now takes home £450,000 a year for his work on football shows including Match of the Day.

Scott Mills, who is moving from Radio 1 to take up Steve Wright's afternoon slot on Radio 2 later this year, had an increase of £15,000. Wright also had a £15,000 pay rise, although his salary is likely to be reduced next year when he leaves his current daytime show.

The gender pay gap widened for the first time since the BBC began recording its figures in 2017.

It now stands at 5.9%, up on last year's 5.2%.

The BBC said this could be down to several factors, including attrition - the loss of employees through retirement, redundancy or resignation who are not subsequently replaced.

While there was no pay gap for ethnic minority BBC staff members in last year's report, there is now a gap of 1.6%, while the disability pay gap increased from 4% to 5.9%.

The wage bill for all on-air talent overall is down slightly at £129.8m. Last year it was £130m.

'Viewers want to see the best people'

BBC director general Tim Davie said some of the pay increases were down to "people this year taking on more responsibility and doing more shows".

He said the corporation was "showing restraint when the market is [being] driven by extreme hyperinflation".

He said the pay list was "a source of a lot of understandable attention", but added: "Actually if you step back, the actual amount paid for that group of talent, which only represents a tiny fraction of the 200,000-odd people who come on our airwaves every year... the return we get in terms of audience value is very strong.

"And actually our research shows people want to see the best people presenting and delivering for the BBC."

A number of high-profile broadcasters who have left the BBC during the last year still appear on the latest list, including former North America editor Jon Sopel, former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, and Andrew Marr, who said he was leaving the corporation for LBC to "get his voice back".

'Some regretted losses'

Mr Davie said: "There are obviously headlines around individuals and some regretted losses, but actually our number in terms of the people being retained in the BBC is high."

He added that there was "no shortage of demand" for top positions at the broadcaster, but stressed the importance of bringing "new talent" through the BBC, which would always mean a "degree of change".

The total bill for the BBC's executive board, including non-executives, was £4.3m, down from £4.8m in 2020/2021.

But as has already been announced, Mr Davie's salary has increased from £494,000 to £522,000.

The BBC is facing cutbacks after the government announced in January that it would freeze the licence fee for two years.

Mr Davie told BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier this year that the settlement would "affect our frontline output". Asked what might be cut, he said "everything's on the agenda".

Report due on Tim Westwood complaints

The director general also told reporters the BBC would deliver a report into complaints made about former Radio 1 and 1Xtra DJ Tim Westwood within the next two weeks.

In April, Westwood was accused of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Davie said the BBC had "seen no evidence" of complaints being received about the hip-hop presenter's conduct.

However, last week it was revealed that the BBC had actually received six complaints, including one that had previously been referred to the police.

"We did an initial round of analysis of HR files, which didn't show something," Mr Davie said on Tuesday. "That was why I made that statement, which was my understanding at that time."

An internal audit is now being carried out, he said.