The BBC is today being forced to admit that nearly 100 of its stars are paid more than the Prime Minister.
- Meltdown as dossier reveals 100 BBC staff earn more than the Prime Minister
- The corporation will have to say which names are on more than £150,000 a year
- Set to be allegations of sexism – as only a third of the high earners are women
For the first time, the corporation will have to say which of its household names are on more than £150,000 a year. One is paid up to £2million.
The stars have been warned to expect public anger over the huge sums. There will also be allegations of sexism – only a third of the high earners are women – and a backlash from staff on lower salaries.
In a bid to limit the damage, BBC boss Lord Hall has sent a video message to all staff reminding them that their salaries are large sums to most licence fee payers.
‘We are dealing with the public’s money,’ he said. ‘This is not something we can take lightly.’
The BBC fought tooth and nail against a government order to publish the figures. It then tried to delay their release.
In a sign of further panic, stars have been told they can defend their pay on social media – breaking with normal BBC protocol. Bosses have warned every staffer on £150,000 or more that their details will be published and in some against the public reaction.
The corporation’s annual report is expected to reveal that:
- Gary Lineker and Chris Evans are among the biggest earners;
- The gender pay gap is even worse for older stars;
- Sports presenters are some of the highest paid;
- 306 senior managers earn more than £150,000 each.
The meetings have fuelled jealousy among other presenters who are now demanding why they are not paid similar sums.
It is understood that today’s figures will show that the BBC’s overall bill for on screen and on air talent – not just those earning more than £150,000 – was £194million last year.
However, it will argue that the bill for top talent – those on £150,000 or more – has fallen by a tenth in a year, and a quarter over the five years
Lord Hall cautioned staff against making comparisons: ‘A word of warning; comparing people’s pay is not straightforward. Very few do precisely the same thing – people working at the same show may have other – or different – commitments.’
However, he apologised to staff for the startling difference in pay for men and women: ‘Of the talent earning over £150,000 – two thirds are men and one third are women. Is that where we want to be? No. Are we pushing further and faster than any other major broadcaster? Most certainly.’
The difference in pay for men and women presenting programmes together is likely to cause the greatest uproar.
A very senior source said: ‘One of the issues here is the massive gender gap.’
Another added: ‘It is pretty uncomfortable if two people are sat at the same desk or on the same sofa, and the man is paid more than the woman for what is ostensibly the same job.’
The BBC claimed releasing the figures – in £50,000 salary bands – would make it easier for rivals to poach staff and force up the talent bill.
When it lost the argument, it argued it should have to publish salary details only for people on £450,000 or above.
It also fought to delay publication to buy time to even up the gender pay gap and move staff off its books.
It has to publish salary details for stars it employs directly, including news presenters, the vast majority of radio hosts and other key television stars.
However, some major names such as Graham Norton and Mary Berry will escape the list because presenters employed via a third-party production company will not have their pay disclosed.
The BBC will be able to keep the pay of dozens of its top TV stars a secret in future years because it has spun off its production arm, BBC Studios, as a commercial company subject to the same loophole.
This will be of limited help to the BBC this year when most of its on-screen talent will face the full glare of public scrutiny.
One ministerial source said: ‘They have resisted this all the way. They have fought against it tooth and nail.’
Lord Tony Hall told staff yesterday: ‘In all the negotiations with the Government about our Royal Charter, we said it would be wrong to put the names of our talent against what they’re paid. We do believe in transparency. In fact, we, uniquely in the media, have published what we’ve been paying to talent in bands for the last seven years – but without naming them.
Bosses let top stars go on social media to defend giant salaries
The BBC will make a dramatic break with protocol today by allowing its top-earning stars to defend their pay on social media.
Presenters such as Match of the Day host Gary Lineker and News at Ten anchor Huw Edwards are already well known for their Twitter rants.
However, the BBC will let them take on their critics directly today when it publishes the list of top earning employees.
Mr Lineker – thought to be one of its highest paid stars – has 5million Twitter followers and a reputation for inflammatory remarks.
Last year, he called those who questioned the age of refugees coming from Calais ‘hideously racist’.
And Mr Edwards found himself in hot water in 2015 when he used Facebook to mock the viewing figures of ITV’s News at Ten.
The BBC has not laid out specific guidance for how stars should behave online, and is leaving them to decide how much they want to discuss publicly when their salaries are revealed.
Meanwhile, bosses are dealing with complaints inside the Corporation from stars who feel that they are underpaid compared with their peers.
Dozens have demanded meetings ahead of today’s disclosure after learning their colleagues are on the list but they are not.
Many female presenters are allegedly furious to learn they do not earn as much as their male counterparts, even though they do more or less the same job.
Others are incredulous that some little-known names who rarely bring in big stories earn more than some of the BBC’s best journalists who risk their lives in warzones.
The BBC faces the threat of walkouts and defections to rival broadcasters eager to poach them.
The corporation will for the first time reveal the names and pay details of presenters earning £150,000 or more, in £50,000 salary bands. Insiders said the pay discrepancies are already proving ‘toxic’ and the ill-feeling is set to get worse when more details are published this morning.
Bosses have been meeting individually with the 96 staff who are on the list and warning them about the likely backlash from the public. In some cases, it has offered them protection in case criticism turns to threats or violence.
Lord Tony Hall, director general, yesterday warned staff against making comparisons.
A senior insider said some pay gaps appear worse than they really are because the BBC has refused to publish precise figures. Staff who earn similar figures but whose pay falls either side of a salary band could believe the discrepancy was actually up to £100,000.