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September 15, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:35am

BBC fails target to close gender pay gap by 2020 + highest-paid BBC journalists ranked

By Freddy Mayhew

The BBC has failed to reach its ambitious target to close the gender pay gap by 2020 under former director general Tony Hall, but is continuing its push for parity under his replacement Tim Davie.

The BBC’s median pay gap was 6.2% in 2019/20, new figures show, falling from 6.7% the year before and 9.3% in 2017 when the salaries of top-earning on-air talent were first made public, revealing the disparity.

At a press conference for the release of the BBC’s annual report today, Davie said Lord Hall’s target had been “very aggressive” but added: “I think we can be proud of our progress.”

Scroll down for list of highest-paid BBC journalists

He said the BBC’s pay gap compared favourably across the industry and wider organisations – the national average is 17.3% – and was the result of a “huge amount of heavy lifting” in dealing with equal pay issues.

“I think we have gone through that period,” he said of equal pay. Journalist Samira Ahmed won an equal pay case against the BBC in January.

Davie said he wanted “a 50/50 group” on gender pay, but the issue was getting more women into senior management ranks. In a number of BBC journalism roles the median pay gap is less than 3%.

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Highest-paid BBC journalists

Also released today are the salaries of the BBC’s top-earning talent, which are given in £5,000 pay bands rather than the precise amount. Only salaries paid for by the TV licence fee are included.

News at Ten anchor Huw Edwards continues to be the highest-paid BBC journalist – holding the top spot for the third year in a row – with new Question Time host Fiona Bruce leaping into second place.

Bruce is the highest-paid female journalist at the corporation. Her full salary as host of Question Time, a role she took up in January last year, alongside her other presenting duties is revealed for the first time.

Bruce earns up to £454,999 a year, behind Edwards on up to £469,999.

Newsnight lead presenter Emily Maitlis is the third-highest paid journalist at the BBC on up to £374,999 a year. Last year the top three were all men and Maitlis and Bruce were both just outside the top ten.

Bruce and Maitlis received the biggest salary boosts of any of the journalists listed. Bruce had a 75% raise on last year, although her salary last year only included the few months she had then worked as Question Time host.

Maitlis, whose job title has not substantially changed since the last on-air talent salary audit, has seen her pay rise by a maximum of 42% on last year, equal to more than £100,000.

Political editor Laura Kuenssberg is also among the BBC women given pay rises. She is now the ninth highest-paid BBC journalist, earning up to £294,999, a maximum increase of £40,000 (16%) on last year.

Edwards, Jeremy Vine and Andrew Marr are among the top-earning male journalists to have had their salaries reduced yet further on last year.

Vine was the highest-paid BBC journalist when salaries were first revealed in 2017 on up to £749,999. He now earns up to £329,999 in a drastic reduction over three years, bringing salaries below £500,000.

Today’s John Humphrys, another top earner, left the BBC in September last year and so does not feature on the list. Andrew Neil and John Pienaar, both listed, left the BBC this year.

There are four women in the top 10 highest-earning BBC journalists this year, compared with two last year (not including BBC News director Fran Unsworth).

The journalists, paid more than £150,000 from licence-fee money, are listed below in full (executive salaries follow after):

BBC News / World Service executive salaries 

BBC journalist Main job Salary (upper band limit)
Francesca Unsworth Director of News and Current Affairs £344,999
Kamal Ahmed BBC News Editorial Director £209,999
Jamie Angus World Service Group Director £204,999
Gavin Allen Head of News Programmes £184,999
Jonathan Munro Head of Newsgathering £184,999
Naja Neilsen Senior News Controller £184,999
Mary Hockaday World Service English Controller £174,999
Joanna Carr Head of Current Affairs £169,999
Sarah Ward-Lilley Managing Editor £169,999
James Gray Head of Journalism £159,999
Sarah Sands Executive News Editor £154,999

Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall

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