Entertainment & Arts

BBC pay: Male presenters could face wage cut

Chris Evans Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chris Evans is the BBC's highest-paid star

The BBC's most highly paid male presenters could be asked to accept lower wages as the corporation tries to close the gender pay gap.

The BBC has defended high salaries which were revealed in its annual report on Wednesday.

The corporation has pledged to achieve equality between men and women on air by 2020.

BBC director of radio and education James Purnell said pay cuts were part of the solution.

He told the BBC's Newsnight programme: "Quite a lot of men have been taking pay cuts; John Humphrys said that today on air."

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Media captionBBC executive James Purnell says "quite a lot of men" have taken pay cuts already

Asked if he expected more male, on-air talent to take a pay cut, he responded: "I'm not going to start negotiating live on air, but that's clearly one of the levers we can pull, and we have been doing that."

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said stars should be conscious "how this looks in public", while Labour MP Harriet Harman said there was "clearly discrimination" at the BBC.

BBC director general Tony Hall has said there is "more to do" on the gender pay gap.

The top seven earners, in the list of the BBC's 96 best-paid stars, were all male.

It is the first time the pay of stars earning more than £150,000 has been made public.

The BBC was compelled to make public the information under the terms of its new Royal Charter.

Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans was the top-paid star on between £2.2m and £2.25m, the BBC's 2016-17 annual report revealed.

Strictly Come Dancing host Claudia Winkleman was the highest-paid female, earning between £450,000 and £500,000.

The One Show's Alex Jones was second, earning between £400,000 and £450,000.

Anne Mcelvoy, senior editor at the Economist, told BBC's Today programme that the disclosures would force the BBC to look at the differentials between men and women.

She rejected the suggestion that the list merely reflected a patchwork of different negotiations with different agents, saying there was a "very clear pattern" that had persisted for a long time that showed the BBC had failed to help women get on.

Peter Fincham, a former controller of BBC One, said the BBC had been wrong to try to resist transparency around "talent" pay, and Wednesday's disclosures would mean there would now be restraint in pulling out the cheque book for talent.

Trade union Equity said in a statement: "The apparent pay gaps in gender and for those from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background are troubling."

George Alagiah, Jason Mohammad and Trevor Nelson are the highest paid BAME presenters, each receiving between £250,000 and £300,000.

The highest-paid female star with a BAME background is news presenter Mishal Husain, who earned between £200,000 and £250,000.

The figures quoted only refer to the amount of licence fee money each person receives and do not include their earnings from other broadcasters or commercial activities.

The annual report does not include stars who receive their pay through BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm.

The figures also exclude stars paid through independent production companies.

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