1. ITV Report

NI’s Stephen Nolan named among BBC’s top earners

BBC radio and television presenter Stephen Nolan. Credit: Pacemaker

Belfast broadcaster Stephen Nolan has been named among the BBC’s top earners, and as the highest paid on-air BBC employee in Northern Ireland.

With a salary in the bracket of £400,000 - £449,999, the Radio Ulster presenter earns around the same as the likes of Match of the Day’s Alan Shearer and The One Show’s Alex Jones.

The broadcaster works seven days a week across Radio Ulster, Radio 5 Live, and BBC One.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Nolan said he had turned down offers of more money for less work as he wanted to work for the BBC.

He added: “I would not be as arrogant to say what I am worth. But I am fair game and ready and prepared to answer questions …

“I have always said from day one I want to work as much as I can, as hard as I can, be the best I can be - and yeah, I want to earn as much as I can.”

It is understood the salaries Nolan receives for his separate presenting roles within the BBC have been amalgamated in the figures released.

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The BBC has been under pressure to reveal how much it pays its stars as those salaries are paid by licence fee revenue.

It has now for the first time published details of those earning more than £150,000 a year, with 214 on and off-air employees falling into that category.

The corporation is being criticised for the lack of diversity among its highest paid employees and for the apparent lack of parity between men and women.

Sinn Féin South Down MLA and Culture spokesperson Sinéad Ennis said: “Many will find it incredible that such vast sums are being paid by a publicly-funded organisation at a time of austerity, pay caps on public sector workers, and cutbacks to regional BBC services.

“The clear gender inequality where only a third of the top earners are women is also a source of concern. The BBC must strive to redress this inequality.”

As a broadcaster, it is obviously an opinion shaper and to maintain such a blatant gender division is wrong.

– Sinéad Ennis, Sinn Féin MLA

People Before Profit West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll added: “Trade unions have been fighting the BBC on the issue of low wages for its workers for years.

“Now we learn that some staff in the BBC are paid in excess of £2m year, while others take home just £16,000.

“If the BBC can afford to pay extravagant wages, then they can certainly afford to pay all of their staff a decent, living wage.

“I back the calls of trade unions, such as Bectu, for the BBC to implement a living wage of £20,000 for its lowest paid staff. We think a pay cap should be implemented within the BBC to reduce over-inflated wages and use the excess to top up the wages of low-paid workers.”

It is unimaginable that a publicly funded corporation should be allowed to use taxpayers’ money to create such a shocking wage disparity.

– Gerry Carroll, PBP MLA

DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said releasing the figures was a step forward for the BBC, but not the end of the road.

Questioning the timing, just ahead of Parliament’s summer recess, he also raised issues such as unlisted payments made to “many of the same ‘stars’ or other individuals through independent production companies” and over-staffing.

“How many producers, editors, researchers and other backroom staff are working on the commercial ‘equivalent’ of any BBC show?” Mr Campbell asked.

“The answer in nearly every case is that a presenter on any other broadcast outlet has far fewer resources available than their BBC counterpart.”

The BBC is paid for by the public, through a compulsory charge under threat of criminal prosecution ...

Whilst you can switch the channel away from the BBC, you don’t have the option to cancel your television licence fee payment.

– Gregory Campbell, DUP MP

The top seven highest paid on-air BBC stars are all white men.

Highest paid overall is Radio 2 host Chris Evans, earning between £2.2m and £2.25m per year.

The highest paid female on-air star is Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman, earning between £450,000 and £499,999, and eighth best-paid overall alongside The One Show’s Matt Baker.

That means that the highest paid male on-air star is paid between four and five times the amount of the highest paid female on-air star.

Of the 20 highest paid on-air stars, only five are female and none are of black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) descent.

The highest paid BAME on-air stars are DJ Trevor Nelson, newsreader George Alagiah, and Radio Wales presenter Jason Mohammad. All three earn between £250,000 and £299,999.

That means that the highest paid on-air star is paid seven times the amount of the highest paid on-air BAME stars.

Top 20 highest paid on-air BBC stars:

  • £2.2m - £2,249,999 - Chris Evans (Radio 2 Breakfast Show)
  • £1.75m - £1,799,999 - Gary Lineker (Match of the Day)
  • £850,000 - £899,999 - Graham Norton (The Graham Norton Show and radio presenter)
  • £700,000 - £749,999 - Jeremy Vine (Radio 2 presenter)
  • £600,000 - £649,999 - John Humphrys (television and radio presenter)
  • £550,000 - £599,999 - Huw Edwards (newsreader)
  • £500,000 - £549,999 - Steve Wright (Radio 2 presenter)
  • £450,000 - £499,999 - Matt Baker (The One Show and Countryfile) and Claudia Winkleman (Strictly Come Dancing)
  • £400,000 - £449,999 - Alex Jones (The One Show), Nicky Campbell (radio and television presenter), Alan Shearer (Match of the Day), Andrew Marr (The Andrew Marr Show), and Stephen Nolan (Radio Ulster)
  • £350,000 - £399,999 - Derek Thompson (Casualty actor), Vanessa Feltz (radio presenter), Nick Grimshaw (Radio 1 presenter), Simon Mayo (Radio 2 presenter), Fiona Bruce (newsreader) and Tess Daly (Strictly Come Dancing)

In comparison to the wages of those on-air, BBC Director General Tony Hall earns between £450,000 and £499,999, with his deputy Anne Bulford earning between £400,000 and £449,999.

Five other members of the BBC's executive committee earn between £300,000 and £349,999.

Mr Hall defended the gender and diversity pay gaps within the corporation, insisting that it is “more diverse than the broadcasting industry and the civil service” in general.

However, he acknowledged that there is “more to do”.

He added: “We've set a clear target for 2020 - we want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women. And it’s already having an impact.

“If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60% are women and nearly a fifth come from a BAME background.

“Meeting our goal on this is going to have a profound impact, not just in the BBC, but the whole media industry. It’s going to change the market for talent in this country.”

Chris Evans, Gary Lineker and Graham Norton have been revealed to be the BBC's highest paid stars. Credit: PA