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BBC reveals its highest paid stars and a major gender gap

Posted at 4:49 AM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 09:42:36-04

The BBC revealed the salaries of its entertainment stars and top journalists on Wednesday.

The data, which was being published for the first time, betrayed an embarrassing fact: Women are being paid less than men.

The highest paid personality was host and producer Chris Evans, who earned between £2.2 million ($2.8 million) and £2.25 ($3.3 million) last year.

The British public broadcaster published the salaries of employees who earn more than £150,000 ($195,400) a year as part of its annual report. The disclosure was imposed by the government in order to improve transparency.

The BBC has been forced to defend its pay practices and the gender gap.

BBC director general Tony Hall said before the report's release that his goal is to achieve equality on the screen and on the radio by 2020.

"Over the last three years, of the new people we've either promoted or put on our screen or radios, 63% were women -- is this progress enough? Absolutely not," he said in an interview with the BBC.

Top political reporters, sports commentators and executives appeared on the list.

Some were bracing for criticism. Gary Lineker, a former international soccer player turned BBC commentator, joked about blaming "the other TV channels that pay more."

His salary was the second highest -- between £1.75 million ($2.3 million) and £1.8 million (2.3 million).

"Now where did I put my tin helmet?" he asked on Twitter.

The BBC has for years resisted political pressure to reveal its salary data.

"I don't think it's right that we should have names against salaries for stars, for presenters, for others," said Hall. "But look, we put these arguments out there and we lost."

The BBC is funded through fees paid by its viewers, who are required to shell out £147 ($191) a year.

The broadcaster says it needs to pay its stars in order to compete with rival commercial TV stations.

On Wednesday, the BBC said that a recent survey it had commissioned showed nearly four in five Brits think the BBC should be able to employ the highest quality presenters, actors and reporters, even if it means "paying similar to what other broadcasters pay."