Britain’s public service broadcaster, the BBC, is preparing for a furore ahead of the publication tomorrow of the salaries of all its talent earning over £150,000 ($195,000) a year.
Although the numbers are trivial in comparison to the salaries of U.S. talent – Megyn Kelly is reportedly earning between $15m and $20m at NBC – the issue has the potential to become a major political row as U.K. public spending continues at austerity levels, owing to the unique way the BBC is funded.
The commercial-free BBC is funded by a ‘TV license fee’ of £147 ($190) which is levied annually on every household with a television set. Non-payment can result in fines (imprisonment for non-payment was only abolished this year), even if the TV owner can prove they do not use the TV to watch the BBC.
Many critics argue the license fee is simply another form of taxation, and resent the salaries handed out by the BBC. However the network argues it has to pay competitive rates to keep its top stars.
While the BBC has for many years published the salaries of senior management, and has previously only published the salaries of on-air talent earning above £450,000, this year marks the first time the Corporation’s TV and radio stars earning more than £150,000-a-year will have their remuneration disclosed.
BBC stars expected to have their pay-packets revealed include Chris Evans, Fiona Bruce, Graham Norton, Laura Kuenssberg, and radio presenter John Humphrys.
According to a report in the Daily Express today, BBC bosses are preparing fore the eventuality that angry licence-payers will verbally threaten and possibly even try and attack the named stars.
A BBC source told the Express: “People are extremely worried about safety, not only for themselves but also their families. There is a worry they will receive a torrent of abuse online.”
The BBC is also reported to be nervous that the figures will reveal a stark gender pay gap.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the list will reveal that that women are not being paid as much as men in the same jobs, sources have said.
By April next year, all British companies with more than 250 employees will have to publish their gender pay gap under a new legal requirement designed to stamp out workplace discrimination.