'The BBC increased its salary bill for presenters by £11 million last year, as Theresa May demanded to know how the corporation can justify such a rise while cutting off free television licences for the over-75s.
The total wage bill for on-air roles was up by more than seven per cent to £158.6 million, and the BBC’s overall headcount increased by nearly 1,000.
The number of presenters earning £150,000 or more increased from 64 to 75 in the last financial year, with the combined bill up from £19.8 milion to £21.8 million.
Those elevated to the ’rich list’ included Zoe Ball and Sara Cox, the Radio 2 DJs, and Jermaine Jenas, the Match of the Day pundit and former footballer, as the BBC responded to previous criticism about the lack of women and BAME presenters among its high earners.
Gary Lineker resisted calls to take a pay cut and maintained his salary of £1.75 million per year, making him the BBC’s highest-paid star for the second year running. His Match of the Day colleague, Alan Shearer, saw his pay rise.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the BBC “needs to explain why they increased on-air pay and total staffing costs whilst saying they can’t fund free TV licences for over-75s.
“As the PM has made clear, taxpayers expect the BBC to use its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to ensure it delivers for UK audiences, which includes showing restraint on senior staff.”
Asked whether the BBC should close the gender pay gap by docking the salaries of its male stars, the spokesman said: “The BBC does have a responsibility to lead the way in promoting workplace equality. There are several ways to progress towards equal pay and it is for the BBC to explain their course of action.”'
Read more: BBC hands stars £11 million pay rise - while cutting free TV licences for over-75s
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