Chris Evans top BBC earner as pay list reveals gender gap

Jeremy Vine refuses to answer construction worker who asks whether he is overpaid

When grilled on Radio 4's Today Programme by Mishal Husain, one of five BAME women to make the cut, Tony Hall said he was committed to closing the gender pay gap by 2020.

The annual salaries of the BBC's highest-earning stars will be revealed today (July 19).

The BBC published the salaries of its 10 highest-earning radio and TV personalities Wednesday, and Evans, who hosts "The Chris Evans Breakfast Show" on BBC Radio 2, topped the list by a fairly large margin. However, the corporation are already bracing themselves for a backlash concerning the discrepancies between the highest paid male and female stars.

Ahead of the announcement, Match of the Day's Gary Lineker joked about the potential backlash.

"Two thirds of the list are men".

Lawyers have warned that the BBC could be open to discrimination lawsuits brought by its female employees.

In a statement, the BBC's Director-General Lord Hall defended the organisation as "more diverse than the broadcasting industry and the civil service" but admitted that "there is more to do". It does not include stars paid through commercial arm BBC Worldwide, such as "Top Gear" host Matt LeBlanc, or those who work for the broadcaster through independent production companies. Just pay us less, that's what I would do, it's not rocket science'.

A "John Harumphrys" account joked the real John Humphrys, who earned at least £600,000 previous year, would be avoiding his Radio 4 Today programme colleagues Justin Webb, who earned at least £150,000, and Nick Robinson, who was revealed to be on between £250,000 and £299,999.

He told Sky News: I've heard anecdotally that some female presenters are paid less than men who are doing the equivalent job. BBC Radio 2's Ken Bruce, who makes at least 250,000 pounds, was accosted on the street.

"We have set the most stretching targets in the industry for on-air diversity and we've made progress, but we recognise there is more to do and we are pushing further and faster than any other broadcaster", he said. "If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60% of women and almost a fifth come from a BAME background", he added.

Just after the BBC's data was released, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) dropped the latest instalment of a series of interactive data visualisations, this time focusing on the gender pay gap in Britain. "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". "Talent salaries and wages will round upwards, they won't go down". "I think the most important thing is we are the ultimate public company and it is probably on balance right and proper that people know what we get paid".

Sir Craig Oliver, David Cameron's former director of communications and ex-BBC News executive, said the Corporation could be facing an inherent sexism issue if figures reveal gender pay differences.

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