The BBC is set to reveal for the first time the salaries of stars earning more than £150,000.
The gender pay gap is expected to be hotly debated, as only a third of the 96-strong list of staff are women.
The pay packets of Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker, chat show host Graham Norton and newsreader Fiona Bruce are expected to be disclosed.
Director General Tony Hall told staff that the BBC had fought against the disclosures in the negotiations about its royal charter, as it would be inflationary and a "poachers' charter".
"You will of course draw your own conclusions ... But ... comparing people's pay is not straightforward," Lord Hall said.
"Very few do precisely the same thing - people working at the same show may have other - or different - commitments."
He acknowledged the salaries are to "lots of people... large sums".
But he defended the pay packets, saying "we need to employ the very best - stars, great presenters, writers, actors, correspondents ...
"We're in a market that is now even more competitive than ever. A decade ago it might have been just ITV or Sky or commercial radio. But now it's Netflix, Amazon or Apple."
He said that the BBC "always try to pay people at a discount to the market" and are "not afraid to walk away if money becomes an issue".
The BBC says the £150,000 salaries represent "less than a quarter of 1%" of its talent contracts last year.
Its bill for top talent was down by 10% year on year and a quarter over the last five years, Lord Hall said.
The BBC said its overall talent bill was down by more than £4 million to below £194 million and its bill for senior managers has reduced from £78.5 million in 2009 to £42.2 million.
The corporation receives about £3.7 billion every year from the TV licence fee and in April the fee increased for the first time since 2010, to £147 from £145.50.