The BBC released a list of the stars who are paid more than £150,000; the salary of the prime minister, in its annual report that had 96 names which was topped by Chris Evans and Gary Lineker.
Evans, who is popular for hosting the ‘Breakfast Show’ on Radio 2, earns in the range of £2.2m – £2.25m while Lineker, known for covering BBC’s flagship football show Match Of The Day earns between £1.75 – £1.99 m.
Graham Norton came in third after the two earning about £900,000 for his own late night celebrity show and Eurovision.
Lineker however confirmed on his Twitter that he had turned down lucrative offers from private broadcasters because he loved and valued his job at BBC Sport.
This was the first time the BBC released the pay of their employees under the terms of 11-year royal charter negotiated with former prime minister David Cameron’s Conservative government.
The release of these details was controversial on quite a scale as the broadcaster is known to make payments through the revenue it earns from the TV licensing fees.
The figures revealed only amount to the money the BBC directly pays and does not disclose the entire income of the respective people as they might be freelancing and getting additional revenue from elsewhere as well.
All of this came when former Cultural Secretary John Whittingdale had called for the BBC to publish these figures as the license payers deserved to know what good was their money being used for.
But the story does not end there as when the figures were published, it showed there was a gender pay gap as the women in the industry earned less and that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) were relatively underpaid.
Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman came in at seventh in the list and was the highest earning woman among the 96 names. It was confirmed earlier by BBC that only a third of the people on the list were women.
George Alagiah, Trevor Nelson and Jason Mohammad were the highest earning members from the BAME background earning between £250,000 – £299,999 while Mishal Hussain is the highest earning woman representing the same with her earnings described in a lower band of £200,000 – £249,999.
Prominent news presenters Amol Rajan and Emily Maitlis were missing from the list which was a bit of a surprise for some.
Meanwhile ITV’s presenter on Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan took this as an opportunity to put down the BBC by criticising their gender pay gap difference and claimed on air that ‘ITV are the reverse of BBC’ because ‘women dominate’ the gender pay gap row.
BBC’s Director General Lord Tony Hall defended the payment scheme and told the Radio 4’s Today Programme on Wednesday morning that the average gender pay gap for the UK was just over 18% whereas it was 10% in the BBC.
He said: “We’ve set a clear target for 2020: we want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women. And it’s already having an impact.If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60% are women and nearly a fifth come from a BAME background.”
Responding to the harsh criticism on the disparity on the pay gap, supporters of the broadcasters said it would be all fair and square if other organisations in the same line would ever unveil the pay cuts their employees get.