Gary Lineker and Zoe Ball remain the highest-paid broadcasters at the BBC, despite both taking significant pay cuts, its annual report shows.
Match Of The Day host Lineker took a cut of £400,000, dropping his salary to £1.36 million, while Radio 2 breakfast host Ball saw her pay drop by 27% to £980,000, after she requested a pay-cut during the pandemic.
After criticism about its wage bill, the corporation has managed to slash its talent salaries by 10%, with many more stars agreeing to take wage cuts or quit altogether.
Speaking about Ball’s decision to drop her pay from last year’s figure of between £1,130,000 and £1,134,999, a BBC spokeswoman said: “Zoe Ball is a world-class broadcaster hosting Radio 2’s flagship show and her professionalism and commitment to the Breakfast Show is extraordinary.”
BBC director-general Tim Davie, who himself took a 27% pay cut, said negotiations with top talent over reducing their pay had been “mutual and constructive”.
“I am not going to give information on the specifics of the conversations,” he said.
“All I would say is I think everyone recognises the strategy, which is getting value to audiences and, without being funny, most conversations are mutual and constructive.
“Now, clearly as a management team, we want to get more value and we are willing to make tough decisions to that extent.
“I think these conversations have all been constructive, as with Zoe Ball where she came forward and said she wanted to adjust the salary. I think everyone is absolutely with the programme on that one.”
Elsewhere in the report, the gender balance of the top 10 highest earners remained the same as the previous year, with six men and four women, with Radio One DJ Scott Mills the only new entrant into the list.
Graham Norton, who was previously the corporation’s third highest earner, has dropped out the top 10 after leaving his Radio 2 show for a slot on Virgin Radio – but still takes a salary of £155,000-£159,000 for his other work.
His earnings from his chat show are not counted, as it is made by his own production company.
The total number of staff earning more than £150,000 a year has dropped from 76 in 2019/2020 to 72 in 2020/2021.
Pay packets earned through the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Studios, are not revealed, with Mr Davie saying the decision not to was “absolutely appropriate”.
Huw Edwards, Emily Maitlis, Fiona Bruce, Ken Bruce and Vanessa Feltz are among the stars who have seen their salaries reduced, while radio presenters Greg James and Scott Mills saw their pay packets increased.
The report says: “COVID-19 has made the on-air environment highly volatile, with delays to productions and the cancellation of live events, especially sport.
“Despite this, we have ensured a stable gender split of 56:44.
“We have demonstrated our ability to deliver improvement since initial publication, with further improvement expected in the forthcoming year as we move towards a 50:50 balance on a gender basis.”
It adds that “significant reductions” have been agreed with those who appear “towards the very top of this list”.
The report covers the first six months of Mr Davie’s tenure as the head of the BBC, who said in a statement: “The BBC has delivered outstanding content and value to audiences in extraordinary circumstances this year. I am proud of all we have achieved to inform, educate and entertain the nation in record numbers during the pandemic.
“The BBC is responding to global competition and pressure on our finances. But, we know we must do much more to ensure licence fee payers across the UK get best value from the BBC, to maintain their trust and provide a service they cannot do without.
“I am absolutely focused on making the reforms we need to ensure the BBC is positioned to offer all audiences the best possible service well into the future.”
Responding to the report, Julian Knight, who chairs the Department of Culture Media and Sport committee, said: “It’s welcome that some of the BBC’s top-earners have agreed to ‘significant reductions’ in their salaries this year. Yet despite taking a pay cut Gary Lineker is still earning £1.36 million.
“There remains a concerning lack of transparency because a number of top-earning stars are paid through BBC Studios and their salaries don’t appear here. Claudia Winkleman is one of those missing from this list despite her work for Radio 2 and presenting Strictly.
“Without any indication of whether these earnings have gone up or down, licence-fee payers are only getting half the picture on whether they are getting value for money.
“It’s time for the BBC to commit to full transparency on its talent bill and drop the smoke and mirrors approach.”