BBC pay: Gary Lineker remains highest-paid star ahead of salary cut as Zoe Ball receives £1m pay rise

‘Match of the Day’ host to take 23 per cent pay reduction as part of new contract

Conrad Duncan
Tuesday 15 September 2020 18:16 BST
Gary Lineker asked if he would rather reverse Brexit or Maradona's 'Hand of God'

Gary Lineker has once again been named as the BBC’s highest-paid star, while radio DJ Zoe Ball has received a pay rise of almost £1m over the past year, according to new official figures.

The figures were published as Mr Lineker, who presents Match of the Day, announced he would be taking a 23 per cent cut in pay as part of a new five-year contract with the BBC.

Ms Ball, who presents BBC Radio Two’s breakfast show, shot up the list to become the highest-paid woman in the top 10 following a pay rise from about £370,000 a year to £1.36m.

However, her reported salary does not include her presenting work for Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, which is paid through the broadcaster’s commercial arm BBC Studios.

Pay packets from BBC Studios, which is responsible for shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, Antiques Roadshow and Doctor Who, are not disclosed in the BBC’s annual report.

This year’s list of the top 10 earners featured four women, up from three last year, with Fiona Bruce, Vanessa Feltz and Lauren Laverne alongside Ms Ball.

The broadcaster has previously faced criticism over its gender pay gap – particularly in 2018, when it was revealed that all of its top 12 earners from 2017-18 were men.

In its summary of this year’s annual report, the BBC said it had made progress on the issue, with the gender pay gap down from 6.7 per cent last year to 6.2 per cent now.

It added that there was now a 55/45 per cent split between men and women paid over £150,000, compared with a 75/25 split in 2016-17.

Mr Lineker’s pay cut will reduce his salary from £1.75m in 2019-20 to about £1.35m, putting his pay just below the salary earned by Ms Ball in 2019-20.

“I love working with the BBC, and am very proud to continue to be a part of their outstanding football team,” he said in a statement on his new contract.

“I’m looking forward to the next five years – with a European Championship and World Cup on the horizon, it’s exciting times for me and the team.”

Following the announcement, the former footballer also tweeted: “Oh dear. Thoughts are with the haters at this difficult time.”

The annual release of top salaries has come amid questions about how the BBC will be funded in the future, with critics of the broadcaster calling for changes to the licence-fee model, which is guaranteed until the end of 2027.

In August, the BBC began means-testing the free TV licence for over-75s, having previously delayed its introduction because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the annual report, Tim Davie, the new BBC director-general, said the organisation should “take nothing for granted” and focus on reforming itself over the coming years.

“This annual report is a good base from which to create a modern, highly efficient BBC that truly reflects Britain,” Mr Davie said.

“There are challenges ahead. We need to keep reforming with urgency so that we are trusted, relevant and indispensable in the digital age.”

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