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July 12, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:09am

BBC Annual Report 2022: Stephen Nolan overtakes Huw Edwards as journalist top earner

By Aisha Majid

Forty BBC on-air journalists made more than £150,000 last year, according to the corporation’s 2022 annual report.

These top-earning  on-air journalists made a collective £10.2m in the financial year to 31 March 2022 – 4% more than the £9.8m that was spent on the corporation’s highest-paid journalists in 2021.

Seven high earners saw double-digit percentage increases on their 2021 salaries.

Scroll down for the full list of the BBC’s highest-paid journalists

BBC Breakfast and 5 Live presenter Naga Munchetty received the biggest pay rise of 42%, increasing her earnings from £255,000– £259,999 to £365,000-£369,999.

Other journalists who saw large pay increases this year included media editor Amol Rajan (whose pay went up ​​35% to the £325,000-£329,999 band as he became a presenter on the Today programme) and BBC News presenter Victoria Derbyshire who increased her salary by 40% from £170,000-£174,999 to £240,000-£244,999.

Of the 37 journalists who appeared on the list in both 2022 and 2021, 15 saw no change in pay while seven made smaller salaries than the previous year.

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Andrew Marr had the biggest cut with his earnings falling 21% from £335,000-£339,999 to £265,000-£269,999. This is however because he  left the BBC earlier this year to join LBC and the New Statesman.

Note: Since the BBC only reveals pay within £5,000 pay bands, we have used the upper band figures to make year-on-year pay comparisons. Year-on-year changes are therefore approximate. 

[Read more: Previous lists of top-earning BBC journalists from 2017, 2018, 20192020 and 2021]

BBC Ulster’s Stephen Nolan (pictured) made a 2% pay increase to become this year’s highest earner on £415,000-£419,999, knocking BBC News at Ten’s Huw Edwards off the top spot for the first time since 2018. Edwards’ salary dropped by around 3%.

Joint second best paid in the year alongside Edwards was Question Time’s Fiona Bruce who earned between £410,000 and £414,999.

The BBC’s new political editor Chris Mason is not on the list – but his promotion came after the financial year covered by the new report. His predecessor Laura Kuenssberg was on £260,000-£264,999.

Additionally, eight news and current affairs executives currently at the corporation were paid over £150,000 – down from 12 last year. Among the high paid executives who left the corporation this year was former news director Fran Unsworth.

Combining the earnings of the BBC’s top earning journalists and highest newsroom executives means that £11.6m was spent on top journalism staff in the last 12 months.

The BBC has lost some high-profile names in the past year as the licence free freeze has made it harder for the corporation to compete with commercial outlets on pay. BBC North America Jon Sopel (on £225,000-£229,999) and Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis (on £325,000-£329,999) departed earlier this year for LBC-owner Global. BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, who was earning between £220,000-£224,999, has recently left to join 5 News.

Asked if the BBC was concerned about its ability to retain top news talent in the face of inflation and the frozen licence fee, BBC director-general Tim Davie said on Tuesday: “Of course. I think that we’re in a competitive market. And I think the BBC’s always been to a degree in this position, but it is more intense as we see well-funded global players enter the market.”

The “attrition rate” of BBC staff was 3%, he said.

He added: “So there’s obviously headlines around individuals and some regretted losses. But actually our number, in terms of the people being retained in the BBC, is high.

“I also would make the point that the BBC historically has been a fantastic place, and should be a place, where we develop new talent, we give new opportunities to people. I’ve been very personally pushing apprentices joining the BBC. So I think we should be seeing new talent coming through the BBC. And that does mean a degree of change.

“It’s a watching brief for us. I think, overall, we are in a strong position and we have an absolute world-class lineup of talent. That remains the case. And I can tell you that whenever we put a job up for grabs at the top level of the BBC in terms of our journalistic jobs, we’ve got no shortage of demand from the finest people in the profession wanting to do those jobs.”

BBC pay gaps widen

Across the BBC’s public broadcasting operation, pay gaps widened in 2021/22 – although some 19 of the 40 highest-paid journalists were women.

The BBC’s median gender pay gap opened  to 5.9% compared to 5.2% in 2020/21- although it is significantly less than the 9.3% in 2017.

The pay gap for black, Asian and minority ethnic staff was 1.6% this year – last year it was close to 0%. Pay gap for staff with disabilities also opened up considerably from 4% to 5.9%.

See below for the top-earning on-air BBC journalists in the 2021/22 financial year – we have included the on-air news and current affairs staff as categorised by the BBC, plus radio broadcasters Stephen Nolan, Jeremy Vine, Nicky Campbell, Emma Barnett and Rachel Burden who we consider mainly do journalism.

The list only includes payment from licence fee revenue and excludes any payment for programmes produced by the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Studios.

BBC annual report 2022: Highest paid journalists at a glance

The top-paid journalists at the BBC in 2021/2022 according to the BBC Annual Report were:

  1. Stephen Nolan: £415,000-£419,999
  2. Huw Edwards: £410,000-£414,999
  3. Fiona Bruce: £410,000-£414,999
  4. Naga Munchetty: £365,000-£369,999
  5. George Alagiah: £325,000-£329,999

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