The BBC’s director-general has defended pay figures of between £150,000 and £1.3m for the corporation’s top stars saying the national broadcaster has been ‘showing incredible restraint’.
Tim Davie said in light of ‘extreme hyper-inflation and competition that has increased pay for some stars – and Gary Lineker remaining the the BBC’s top earning on air-talent for the fifth consecutive year – it’s only a ‘fraction’ of its total spend on staff.
But the TaxPayers’ Alliance has argued that the Beeb’s huge salaries have ‘barely budged’ and instead hit pensioners and the ‘struggling’ public who are ‘fed up’ with the annual licence fee of £159 a year.
Lineker was paid between £1,350,000 and £1,354,999 in 2021/2022 for work including Match Of The Day and Sports Personality Of The Year – a reduction of £10,000 on the previous year.
The 61-year-old pundit and former footballer – who has been locked in a battle with HMRC over his employment status and £4.9m of tax it says he owes – first topped the list for 2017/18 with a pay bracket of £1,750,000 to £1,759,999, and in 2020 it was announced he had taken a voluntary pay cut.
Lineker is also the only name to earn over £1m annually Zoe Ball remains the broadcaster’s second highest paid talent, with a salary of £980,000 to £984,999, but figures show her salary falling for a second consecutive year.
Her salary has now slipped to below £1 million and reflects approximately 210 editions of The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Radio 2.
Alan Shearer has seen a year-on-year increase of £60,000, bringing his salary to £450,000-£454,999, which puts him joint third with Steve Wright, whose salary this year reflects a £15,000 decrease.
The corporation’s annual report for 2021/22, which also marks its centenary, shows four out of the top 10 best paid names have seen their salaries fall.
Speaking at a press conference, BBC director-general Tim Davie said: ‘Critically, if you look at the overall spend for our top talent I think we are showing incredible restraint in a market that is being driven by extreme hyper-inflation and competition.
‘If you look at the value we get. And I know this is a source of a lot of understandable attention, actually if you step back the actual amount paid for that group of talent, which only represents a tiny fraction of the 200,000-odd people who come on our airwaves every year, the return we get in terms of audience value is very strong.
‘And actually our research (shows) people want to see the best people presenting and delivering for the BBC.’
The only new addition to the top 10 is Greg James, whose salary has increased by £80,000.
The 36-year-old earns between £390,000 and £394,999 for work including the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Rewinder on Radio 4, Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Out Out! Live, with Sports Personality Of The Year also listed.
This year’s top 10 features fewer women that last year, dropping from four to three.