BBC top earner Zoe Ball has requested a pay cut as she feels “uncomfortable” with a £1million wage rise.
The Radio 2 Breakfast Show host will begin negotiations with the Beeb “in the coming weeks” ahead of signing a new deal due to start in January.
It means the 49-year-old intends to drop in the wage rankings to below Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker, 59 — despite him taking a £400,000 reduction.
The ex-England striker was the Beeb’s top earner in the 2019/20 financial year on £1.75million, but has since signed a deal for less.
Zoe, ex-wife of DJ Fatboy Slim, took over the prized Radio 2 slot last year from Chris Evans.
She also hosts Strictly spin-off It Takes Two.
A BBC source said: “Zoe was given a very big pay rise when she took on the job because the gender pay row at the BBC was raging and she was replacing a man on a big wage in a high-profile job.
“She has always been thankful for the wage she earns, and she does work very hard, getting up at 4am daily and putting in long hours.
“But in the current climate, and during a pandemic, she has felt increasingly uncomfortable about how much she earns so has requested that it is reduced.”
Zoe was revealed as the BBC’s new top earner in their annual pay report — in which the corporation publishes the wages of on-air talent earning above £150,000.
Other high-profile men among the corporation’s top earners taking a pay cut include newsreader Huw Edwards, now on £470,000.
The number of women in the top ten paid has now risen from six to seven, with presenter Fiona Bruce getting a near-£200,000 pay rise.
Zoe’s annual pay soared from £370,000 last year to £1.36million, which is nine times that of the Prime Minister’s wage.
New director general Tim Davie defended her pay after she lost millions of listeners in the first year in her new role, saying it was a “punchy” market.
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He added: “Zoe is absolutely a broadcaster at the top of her game. She is delivering to over eight million listeners.”
Discussions surrounding stars’ earnings come amid a row over TV licences, with the Beeb confirming in July it would plough on with plans to end free TV licences for most over-75s.
A BBC spokeswoman tonight declined to comment.
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