The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is facing a public scrutiny storm after it published a list of its 96 highest earners, revealing the majority are men.
The public broadcaster was forced by the British government to publish the names and salaries of its highest-earning talent being paid out of its £3.8 billion ($A6.24 billion) licence fee in its annual report on Wednesday.
The top seven earners on the list were all male.
Radio broadcaster and former Top Gear host Chris Evans was the BBC’s highest earner, raking in at least £2.2 million ($A3.6 million) in the last financial year.
By contrast, the highest-paid female star, Strictly Come Dancing host Claudia Winkleman, only earned between £450,000 ($A738,000)and £500,000 ($A820,381) – a fifth of what Evans makes.
Winkleman, 45, has hosted a version of the television dance contest in some capacity for 13 years.
Evans, meanwhile, has been with the BBC since he became a host on one of its radio shows in the early ’90s and currently presents BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show.
In 2016, he stepped down from his hosting gig on Top Gear after just one season after a barrage of criticism for his hosting style.
Some BBC viewers pointed out comparing Winkleman with Evans was unfair given Evans hosts a handful of different shows, while Winkleman hosts only one.
The only other woman on the list making more than £400,000 ($A655,987) was sports presenter Clare Balding.
Meanwhile, there were 12 men making more than £400,000 a year.
One of the few faces familiar to Australian viewers on the list, chat-show host Graham Norton, 54, came in third with a salary of between £850,000 ($A1.39 million) and £900,000 ($A1.48 million).
This figure does not include separate payments made to his production company, which makes his show and also pays him a salary.
Norton’s net worth is estimated at around $US30 million (about $A37.7 million).
Former English soccer great Gary Lineker, who hosts football analysis show Match of the Day, was the second highest-paid person on the list at £1.75 million ($A2.87 million) and took to Twitter to jokingly respond to the gender pay-gap furore.
“The whole BBC salary exposure business is an absolute outrage … I mean how can Chris Evans be on more than me?” he tweeted on Thursday.
Former BBC chairman Lord Lew Grade said the disclosure of top salaries was “distasteful and disturbing”, but MP John Whittingdale said British people deserved to know, given they were funding these salaries through their TV licence fees.
There was chaos in 2013 when the salaries of senior figures at Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, were leaked, revealing Q&A host Tony Jones to be the highest paid.
The figures shocked many working at the ABC, who didn’t realise they were earning significantly less than some of their colleagues.
“I’m not happy … always accepted the fiction that we were paid much the same,” host Phillip Adams told Crikey at the time.
– with AAP