BBC director-general Tim Davie has defended Gary Lineker's high salary, arguing that he provides "immense value" for the broadcaster in terms of cost per viewer.
The Match of the Day host is the BBC's top earner among on-screen talent with an annual salary of £1.35 million, according to the latest set of disclosed figures.
Appearing in front of a House of Lords committee today, Davie was quizzed over whether Lineker should be paid such a high sum and whether the opportunity of hosting the show could instead be handed to someone commanding a lower salary.
"I think overall we've done a pretty good job of bringing talent pay and senior pay down," he replied. "I actually don't agree, forgive me, that anyone can do this.
"Someone who has played for England, got the experience... he is of immense value for us.
"Let's just set this in context for a minute - I understand and respect the PR challenges around it, but we have 24,000 individuals who come on air and contribute at the BBC. We only have 68 that are paid more than £178.000. If we took them all down [in pay] and said 'no-one gets paid more than £150,000', that would save us £5-6 million, on a budget of £3.7 billion.
"So I understand the issues around communication but in terms of actual hard savings it's not a hugely material chunk in terms of the overall BBC budget.
"But those individuals who represent about 0.34% [of cost] deliver about 40% of our viewing and listening. They're where the action is for most people, in terms of their relationship with the BBC. Other people could present these shows, but some of these individuals I do believe do a difficult job extremely well."
The latest disclosure of talent salaries also revealed that Zoe Ball is the second highest-paid presenter on £980,000, followed by MOTD pundit Alan Shearer (£445,000), currently-suspended newsreader Huw Edwards (£435,000) and BBC Northern Ireland's Stephen Nolan (£400,000).
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