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Hall promises action on BBC pay

BBC director general Tony Hall has defended the salaries of its top stars and promised to close the gender pay gap by 2020, after it emerged only a third of its best-paid talent is female.

Tony Hall

The UK pubcaster is set to unveil the pay of anyone earning more than £150,000 (US$195,000) a year as part of its new-look charter agreed with the government last year.

The figure had initially been set at £450,000 but prime minster Theresa May subsequently slashed the figure.

The details, to be released today as part of the corporation’s annual report, are expected to show 96 stars being paid in excess of £150,000 – almost £30m between them – with two-thirds of them men.

Stars are expected to include former Top Gear presenter Chris Evans, chatshow presenter Graham Norton and Antiques Roadshow host Fiona Bruce, prompting some viewers to take to social media services complaining of overpayment.

But Hall, talking this morning to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, defended the pubcaster’s record and promised he would ensure gender pay equality within three years.

“The average gender pay gap for the UK is just over 18%, our figure is 10%. I’m committed to making sure we do something about it,” he said.

“By 2020 we will have equality between men and women on air, and we will also have the pay gap sorted by then too.”

Hall also said that almost two-thirds of new appointments and promotions within TV and radio departments over the past three years had been women.

The decision to force the BBC to publish its top talent pay has been decried by both Hall and competitors such as ITV’s TV chief Kevin Lygo, who argue it will simply inflate pay over coming years.

Hall said that because the BBC had been singled out it was likely competitors would attempt to poach its talent and added that he was “satisfied” that its best paid talent were good value for money.

The BBC’s total talent bill was cut by more than £4m over the past financial year to £194m, according to the organisation.

“I completely understand that to lots and lots of people these are very large sums but we are a broadcaster, a global broadcaster, in a very competitive market. We have to be competitive but not foolishly,” he said.

“No-one would want us to be paying sums where it’s not at a discount to the market. People expect us to have great broadcasters, great presenters, great stars but pay them less than they would get in the market.”

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