BBC criticised over pay rises as latest salaries are revealed

The BBC has been criticised for handing some of its stars pay rises while announcing the end of the universal free TV licence for over-75s.

The broadcaster has revealed the pay packets of its talent, featuring Gary Lineker with £1.75 million at the top.

Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker

The BBC was first forced, by the Government, to reveal the salaries of dozens of its presenters in 2016, when the publication sparked a gender pay row.

The new figures show that many men at the broadcaster, whose recent TV hits have included Bodyguard, Killing Eve and Blue Planet II, have taken pay cuts.

Jeremy Vine took a pay cut
Jeremy Vine took a pay cut

They include Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine (a drop of around £150,000 to around £290,000), Today host John Humphrys (a fall of £110,000 to around £290,000), and Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw (by around £90,000 to £310,000).

But others have seen jumps in their salaries, this year’s annual report shows.

Zoe Ball, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz are among the highest-paid BBC stars
Zoe Ball, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz are among the highest-paid BBC stars

They have been revealed just weeks after the BBC announced it will scrap the universal free TV licence for over-75s.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, which opposes the BBC licence fee, criticised the increases.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager for the Alliance, said: “After announcing that many pensioners will now be forced to pay the dreaded TV tax, you’d think the BBC would have shown more respect to taxpayers by cutting back on unnecessary spending.

Read our latest annual report here:

— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) July 2, 2019

“How can the BBC justify giving so many sky-high salaries – that most licence-fee payers can only dream of – when whacking up charges on older people?”

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi
BBC chairman Sir David Clementi

But BBC chairman Sir David Clementi dismissed the suggestion that the BBC could fund free TV licences for over-75s by cutting the pay of stars.

Many have urged the Government to commit to continuing the funding for the benefit, saying it is breaking a manifesto pledge by putting the responsibility on the BBC.

And Sir David said: “The sums don’t add up. It is clear in this report that even if we employed no stars paid more than £150,000… that would save around £20 million, a fraction of the £745 million a year and rising we would need if we extended the concession to all.”

The BBC has said that funding the universal scheme would mean the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and several local radio stations.

BBC Breakfast host and sport presenter Dan Walker’s salary is up by around £60,000, while Today presenters Justin Webb and Nick Robinson have had rises of £85,000 and £40,000 respectively.

And they are topped by TV and radio presenter Jason Mohammad who has pocketed a £95,000 increase to around £355,000.

Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley’s salary is up around £100,000 on the previous year to around £270,000 – she previously presented the Drivetime show alongside Simon Mayo.

6 Music host Lauren Laverne – now presenting Desert Island Discs – is up by £75,000, while Radio 4 Today programme presenters Martha Kearney (by £45,000) and Mishal Husain (by £35,000) have also seen their salaries increase.

The inclusion of Zoe Ball, Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman mean that women are in the top 10 for the first time, compared to last year’s all-male list.

Drivetime host Ball’s £370,000 figure for her salary will rise next year as she only started her job in January.

Top 10 highest-paid BBC female stars 2018/19
Top 10 highest-paid BBC female stars 2018/19

Winkleman, on the same figure, is in the top 10 this year not because of a pay rise but because some men have fallen out out of the rankings after taking pay cuts.

Feltz is also in the top 10, with around £355,000 for work on Radio 2 and Radio London.

The total talent bill has gone up by almost £11 million to around £159 million while 75 people at the BBC now earn more than £150,000, up from 64 last year, figures from the report show.

Radio 1 breakfast show host Greg James is up around £55,000, while football pundit Alan Shearer has seen a rise of £30,000 to around £440,000.

The salaries of stars who work on shows such as Top Gear and Doctor Who have not been published, as the broadcaster does not reveal the salaries paid through its commercial arm BBC Studios.

The top 10 puts former Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans second, with around £1.25 million – the figure he received before he quit his Breakfast Show in December.

Graham Norton completes an all-male trio at the top, receiving around £610,000 for payments for his Radio 2 show and “a range of programmes and series”, not including his chat show.

As well as Evans, DJs Simon Mayo and Eddie Mair quit the BBC recently.