Who earns the most at the BBC? White men, a new salary report reveals

Los Angeles Times [link]

The BBC is funneling loads of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of its highest-paid stars -- its white male stars, to be exact.

Under the terms of its new charter, the U.K. public broadcast powerhouse was compelled to release the names and salaries of its top-line earners, unearthing an international controversy about its glaring wage gaps.

The salary report reveals that 96 of the BBC's leading on-air personalities earn at least $195,000 every year. And radio host Chris Evans, the broadcast network's chief earner, takes home more than $2.9 million -- about 20 times the salary of the U.K. prime minister. 

The BBC's payroll docket is a sensitive issue, which is why the network has kept its contents under wraps until now. In the U.K., there is a $190 annual fee exacted on every television-owning household, as well as those who watch BBC programs online. That means that multimillionaire stars, like Evans, are essentially profiting from BBC-consuming taxpayer bills.

The salaries, which were published in ranked clusters rather than specific figures, reveal a stark wage gap along gender and race lines. Two-thirds of the BBC's highest earners are men. Its top-earning woman -- "Strictly Come Dancing" host Claudia Winkleman -- makes less than a quarter of Evans' salary. This is an apparent pattern throughout the report, which revealed stark wage rifts between male and female personalities who basically fulfill the same job function.

The report also raised issues about race, as the BBC's elite band of earners are overwhelmingly white in addition to overwhelmingly male. None of its nonwhite stars earn more than about $391,000 a year. 

While BBC chief Tony Hall conceded that the report did expose "the need to go further and faster on issues of gender and diversity," he defended the astronomical salaries.

“The BBC does not exist in a market on its own where it can set the market rates,” he said in a speech to his staff on Tuesday. “If we are to give the public what they want, then we have to pay for those great presenters and stars."

Emily Mae Czachor