BBC pay: eight key takeaways from the 2019 annual report

Who are the highest earners among BBC talent? Who's taken cuts and who's been bumped up? And what does the gender pay gap look like now?

BBC Pay, BBC Pictures

Another year, another bumper BBC report publishing the salaries of its top talent. As has become the custom, journalists pore over the pay packets – some big, some disappointingly small.

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The BBC has taken some heat for the gender pay gap shown in the last two reports (the corporation has been required to publish the pay of all stars’ earning in excess of £150,000 since 2017) but has further narrowed the gap between its male and female talent in its 2018/2019 version.

Whereas last year, its top earners fell at 66:34 in favour of men, this year that figure stands at an improved 55:45.

Along with the reduced gender pay gap, there are a number of other key takeaways from this year’s list – read on while we unpack them…

Pay cuts for: John Humphrys, Huw Edwards and Nicky Campbell

As revealed in the press in the days leading up to the report’s publication, a number of key male presenters have taken further pay cuts in order to level out that pay gap.

They include Today presenter John Humphrys whose salary has dropped from within the £400,000–£409,000 band to £290,000-£294,999 (last year’s report was published in increments of £10,000; this year it’s in chunks of £5,000).

BBC News presenter Huw Edwards is another to take a cut, going from £520,000-£529,999 to £490-£494,999, as does Nicky Campbell who was once earning £410,000-£419,999 but is now paid £340,000–£345,999.


BBC women increase their pay packets

Programme Name: The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show - TX: n/a - Episode: Zoe Ball Breakfast Show (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Zoe Ball - (C) BBC - Photographer: Sarah Jeynes

In a year when the BBC has appointed a number of women to senior roles, it makes sense that some female talent enters – or climbs up – the list.

One key newcomer is Zoe Ball, who took over from Chris Evans on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show at the start of the year and is now paid £370,000-£374,999. (Chris Evans still tops the Radio 2 salaries with an annual wage of £1,250,000-£1,254,999 for the half a year spent fronting his show before departing the BBC for commercial rival Virgin Radio).

Claudia Winkleman – who was the highest paid woman last year, placing 13th on the list – sees her salary remain at a similar rate at £370,000-£374,999, while Vanessa Feltz, who presents Radio 2’s 5am show and Radio London’s Breakfast Show, rises from £330,000-£339,999 to £355,000-£359,999.


Gary Lineker remains BBC’s top earner – and doesn’t take a pay cut

It’s the second year in a row that Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker has topped the list of BBC salaries (Chris Evans was the highest earner in the first year of the report’s release, but took a pay cut and subsequently dropped below Lineker).

According to the 2018/2019 report, Lineker earned £1,750,000-£1,754,999. It’s notable that while a number of key talent have accepted a drop in their renumeration to even out the gender imbalance, Lineker has remained on the same pay. Meanwhile, his MotD co-star Alan Shearer has seen his pay cheque go up from £410,000-£419,999 to £440,000-£444,999.

Defending the high pay packets of  his top talent, BBC director-general Tony Hall recently wrote in the Huffington Post:

“I accept they get big salaries – in total around 1% of our content spend. But they also front some of the biggest shows on TV and radio: programmes that account for 40% of viewing and listening to the BBC. They would earn significantly more elsewhere – and recent departures to commercial rivals show this argument isn’t hollow.”

Evans and fellow radio presenter Eddie Mair are among those stars who have defected to commercial stations in the past year.


Laura Kuenssberg leapfrogs Jon Sopel

Laura Kuenssberg (Photographed for Radio Times by Richard Ansett)
Laura Kuenssberg (Photographed for Radio Times by Richard Ansett)

Amid another year of crisis in Westminster, the BBC has recognised the long hours of its Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg by bumping up her salary from £220,000-£229,999 to £250,000-£254,999, seeing her overtake North America Editor Jon Sopel for the first time (he’s had a more modest increase from £230,000-£239,999 to £240,000-£244,999).

The BBC’s Europe Editor Katya Adler – who appears with Kuenssberg on hit BBC podcast Brexitcast – has also seen her salary rise from £170,000-179,999 to £205,000-£209,999. But she remains on less than BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan who pulls in £210,000-£214,999.


Top new jobs for BBC women = higher salaries

With the departure of Evan Davis and David Dimbleby from Newsnight and Question Time respectively, the BBC have appointed two women to the high profile current affairs posts – and adjusted their salaries accordingly.

Emily Maitlis inherited the lead presenter role on Newsnight, and has seen her salary grow from £220,000-£229,999 to £260,000-£264,999, while Fiona Bruce came through an intense audition process to land Dimbleby’s gig on Question Time, and is now paid £255,000-£259,999 (it’s worth noting that this reflects just ten editions of Question Time – her figure is likely to rise once she’s been in the job for a longer period).

Maitlis made headlines when the 2016/2017 figures were published in July 2017 thanks to her absence from the list altogether. Her salary, which was not revealed as it was less than £150,000, added fuel to the sexism row and she was subsequently offered a new contract and appeared on last year’s list.


The Today programme reduces its pay gap

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on October 10, 2015 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Radio 4’s Today programme has also come under fire in the past for the imbalance in pay for its male and female presenters.

Humphrys’ cut means he and co-presenter Nick Robinson are now level on £290,000-£294,999 (both presented 140 episodes of Today in the past year and Robinson also fronts his Political Thinking podcast and presented BBC documentaries, plus episodes of Panorama and NHS at 70).

They are still on significantly higher salaries than Mishal Husain, who only fronted 100 editions of Today but also presented 40 days of BBC News bulletins and 12 episodes of Our Home Correspondent. She has received a significant increase, up from £220,000-£229,999 to £255,000-£259,999, but earns at least £30,000 less than her colleagues.

Meanwhile, Justin Webb and Martha Kearney – who presented 150 and 140 episodes of Today respectively, both pull in £245,000-£249,999 – a major pay rise for both (Webb was previously on £160,000-£169,999 and Kearney earned £200,000-£209,999).


Sue Barker v Jon McEnroe

Sue Barker, BBC Pictures, SL

Much was made of John McEnroe‘s BBC salary when it emerged last year that he was paid ten times the amount spent on Martina Navratilova. The tennis correspondent and multiple Grand Slam champion also drew criticism for appearing in the same pay bracket as Sue Barker (£190,000-£199,999), who leads the BBC coverage of Wimbledon every year.

The 2018/2019 report reveals that Barker is, in fact, paid marginally more – on £195,999-£199,999, compared with McEnroe’s £190,000-£194,999. But Navratilova does not appear on the list.


Who’s missing from the list? And why?

Read the full list of BBC pay and you might notice there are a number of rather famous BBC faces who do not appear. That’s because many of them are paid via BBC Studios – the corporation’s commercial arm. It is not underpinned by the BBC licence fee and is therefore not required to publish its top salaries.

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So, if you’re wondering about the salaries of Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker, Luther’s Idris Elba and Casualty’s Derek Thompson, you’ll be left in the dark. Claudia Winkleman’s salary is also likely to be much higher thanks to her Strictly Come Dancing earnings which also fall under the BBC Studios umbrella.