BBC to publish names of biggest earners

Britain’s BBC will publish the salaries of its highest paid stars and journalists for the first time on Wednesday, revealing the gap in pay between men and women, in a move imposed by the government to improve value for money at the public broadcaster.

A man talks on a mobile phone inside the BBC headquarters in London November 21, 2008.  REUTERS/Andrew Winning
A man talks on a mobile phone inside the BBC headquarters in London November 21, 2008. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The BBC has for years come under pressure to say how much it pays its highest earners and the obligation to name them was part of its latest 10-year legal settlement with the government.

The corporation says 96 people currently earn salaries over 150,000 pounds a year, which it says helps it to compete for top talent with commercial rivals ITV and Sky and internet groups Google and Apple.

“We are a global broadcaster, we want to employ stars, we want to employ the very best presenters, correspondents,” Director General Tony Hall said. “We’re in a market, and it’s a competitive market.”

The BBC is the biggest player in television, radio and online news in Britain, with its extensive services funded by a guaranteed income of 3.7 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) from a licence fee levied from all TV-watching households.

Critics, however, say it is a bloated organisation that stifles commercial rivals, for example by providing free and extensive online news and information, making it harder for commercial groups to charge for their content.

Hall said the BBC already did get value for money from its top talent, who are drawn to the public broadcaster because of its cachet and unrivalled audience reach.

“People do come and work here for a discount,” he said.

Former soccer player Gary Lineker, now presenter of a hugely popular soccer programme on the BBC, has said he could have made more money working elsewhere. He is expected to be one of the people towards the top of the pay list.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has said publishing the salaries of those earning more than 150,000 pounds would bring the corporation in line with the civil service and improve the value for money of the licence fee.

The corporation will publish the 96 names at 1000 GMT (11.00 a.m. BST). It has already said that only one third of the people on the list are women.

Hall has vowed to have equality between the numbers of men and women appearing on air, and in the amount they are paid, by 2020.