Comment The BBC is trembling with excitement following the enforced publication of the annual salaries of on-screen stars earning more than £150,000 at the tax-funded broadcaster.
Exclusive to all news outlets everywhere this morning (actual figures were embargoed until 11am to ensure that the key lunchtime news rush would be dominated by news about news) was the, er, news that Gary Lineker is apparently worth between £1.75m and £1.79m a year, while BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg earns a relatively paltry £200k-£249k.
Chris Evans, the, ahem, belovedly cheeky radio and telly host, topped the list with a salary of between £2.20m and £2.25m. All figures were given in £50,000 brackets.
In contrast, the prime minister is paid a basic salary of £150k, excluding perks such as 10 Downing Street, Chequers, and so on.
The full list of BBC salaries can be found on the Spectator’s website; Auntie herself hadn't bothered telling anyone other than selected journalists exactly who earns what by the time of writing.
Meanwhile, starting with this morning’s BBC Breakfast News conniptions about the gender pay gap, the BBC’s news and PR arms came together to lecture us all on how Something Is Being Done.
Director-general Lord Tony Hall (£512,000 on appointment in 2012) was already pre-briefing the public in clips run on the BBC News website last night, describing the pay transparency move as a “poacher’s charter”, raising the idea that the BBC is responding to public scrutiny by threatening to tax consumers harder. Good one, Tone.
“We put those arguments out there and we lost. We’re now managing a situation we didn’t want,” Hall complained bitterly, as Amol Rajan (formerly editor of The Independent, now meedja editor for Auntie) chipped in: “But isn’t it quite embarrassing that two-thirds of those paid more than £150,000 are men?”
Not only do men significantly out-earn women at all senior on-air levels, according to today’s stats, but the corporation’s outsourced TV Licensing arm, run on its behalf by Capita, prosecutes 70 per cent more women than men for not paying the compulsory .
This is something Capita has tried to brush under the carpet by pointing to a government-backed review, by David Perry QC, of its behaviour – which, er, found a more or less identical statistical disparity in 2014, though it stopped short of finding that Capita's behaviour amounted to "unfair" or "intentional" targeting of women.
The BBC’s press office, which maintains a Twitter account, appeared to have gone into carpet-chewing meltdown earlier this morning, spewing out all manner of meaningless kneejerkery in defence of its stars’ fat paycheques. Take this howler, for example:
Did you see what they did there? That’s right – they’ve applied some kind of correction for inflation (which, incidentally, doesn't match what happens if you look up the same values using the Bank of England's inflation calculator) to “prove” that the Telly Tax is somehow cheaper now than it was 31 years ago. In 1986 a colour TV licence cost £58, if figures on Wikipedia are to be believed.
The Beeb's press office did point us to a recent survey of 1,000 British adults, carried out by polling company Ipsos MORI, claiming that 80 per cent support the BBC paying market rates for its on-air talent.
If there’s one thing all this hot air and awkwardness shows, it’s the inherent dislike of all Britons for anyone who earns more than them – especially if their pay comes from the public purse. ®
The Beeb press office even resorted to publishing misleading graphs appearing to suggest it had halved its talent wage bill. This prompted one fast-fingered fellow to correct Auntie: