BBC pay grades set to show gender pay gap as Gary Lineker jokes: Happy salary day… now where did I put my tin helmet

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Gary Lineker has joked “where did I put my tin helmet” ahead of a major BBC announcement on the pay received by their biggest stars.

In a pre-emptive tweet, The Match of the Day presenter blamed his salary on competition for stars from other television channels.

He said: “Happy BBC salary day. I blame my agent and the other TV channels that pay more.

“Now where did I put my tin helmet?”

Lineker is expected to one of the highest earning at the corporation, along with the likes of Graham Norton, Fiona Bruce and Chris Evans, as about 100 journalists and presenters have their pay published.

Journalists including political editor Laura Kuenssberg and the Today presenter John Humphrys are also expected to be named.

At the Government’s insistence, it is the first time the BBC has revealed the full list of names of its highest-earning stars.

Director-General Tony Hall said online broadcasters, including Netflix, Amazon and Apple, had joined traditional rivals such as ITV and Sky in the competition for stars.

In a recorded message to staff, Lord Hall also said more needs to be done to address the gender pay gap at the BBC, which will show that 60 per cent of the highest earners are men.

“At the moment, of the talent earning over £150,000, two thirds are men and one third are women,” he said. “Is it where we want to be? No.”

But he added: “Are we pushing further and faster than any other major broadcaster? Most certainly.”

The broadcaster wants all lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women within three years, Lord Hall said. 

He also warned against employees comparing their own pay with that of the top earners.

He said: “A word of warning: comparing people’s pay is not straightforward. Very few people do exactly the same thing.”

The corporation had objected to the government order on releasing the salary details, Lord Hall added.

He said: “In all the negotiations with the Government about our Royal Charter, we said it would be wrong to put the names of our talent against what they’re paid.

“We said giving names could be inflationary – setting benchmarks and raising expectations – driving up wages at a time we’re bringing costs down. In effect, it would set up a poachers’ charter. But in the end the Government insisted.”

He said that the broadcaster’s bill for the best paid talent had fallen by a tenth in the past year and by a quarter since 2012.

The BBC’s annual report will also reveal that the total bill for on-air talent has reduced by £4million from £198million in 2016 to £194million.

The corporation had made £172 million savings across the year, Lord Hall added, with less than a quarter of one per cent of 43,000 contracts paid more than £150,000.

Earlier this year, BBC presenter and broadcaster Andrew Marr said the pay disclosure would be “uncomfortable” for all staff.

He said: “I’m well paid but I’m much less overpaid, perhaps, than people working for rival organisations who won’t go through this process.”

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