JUST weeks after announcing the removal of automatic free TV licences for over 75s after the cost of the concession was passed to the BBC from the government, the corporation yesterday revealed how much its top talent is earning.

The decision to means test the free licence scheme brought criticism from campaigners, who have stressed the importance of television to many lonely, isolated people. There have also been warnings that many eligible for pension credit do not actually claim the benefit, and therefore will not qualify for a free licence. All those worries will not be assuaged by yesterday’s pay figures. Although not a surprise, the amounts are no less eyewatering, with

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker retaining top spot with a pay packet of between £1,750,000 and £1,754,999.

Work to address the gender imbalance among the top earners has had an effect, with Zoe Ball, Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman in the top ten.

The Northern Echo:

Correcting that disparity is welcome, and has been hailed by the BBC’s director-general Tony Hall, who believes the public backs the broadcaster giving high salaries to “big stars” because they are “talented and entertaining”. Mr Hall has also cited “record levels of efficiency” at the corporation.

However it is hard to escape the feeling that for hard-up older residents who may not quite be in the pension credit bracket, or who have difficulty making a claim in order to access their free licence, these pay sums will feel like another kick in the teeth.