Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker Image Credit: Reuters

London: Gary Lineker retained his position as the best-paid presenter employed by Britain's BBC, taking home more than 1.35 million pounds ($1.74 million) in the 2022-23 financial year, according to the broadcaster's annual report published on Tuesday.

The corporation, which is funded by a licence fee paid by every British TV-watching household, has to publish the salaries of its top executives and presenters, often drawing criticism from newspapers about high pay.

Lineker, the former England soccer captain, was taken off air in March after criticising the government's immigration policy on Twitter, but he was reinstated after a public backlash and a staff near-mutiny.

The controversy raised questions about how the 100-year-old BBC balances impartiality with free speech in a social media age.

The BBC has been plunged into another crisis in recent days by reports in the Sun newspaper that one of its presenters had paid a young person for explicit photos over three years, beginning when the person was 17.

The police have not launched an investigation. A lawyer acting for the young person has told the broadcaster in a letter that the allegations were "rubbish".

The BBC has suspended the presenter, who has not been named.

In its annual report, the BBC said its income from the licence fee totalled 3.74 billion pounds, down from 3.8 billion a year earlier, reflecting a decline in the number of people paying the licence.

Total income, which also includes commercial income and grants, totalled 5.72 billion pounds, up from 5.33 billion pounds, it said.

The highest-paid radio personality, and second highest overall, was Radio 2 breakfast show host Zoe Ball, in the 980,000 to 984,999 pounds band, it said.

The BBC's commercial arm, BBC Studios, does not publish the salaries of the stars in its shows, such as the entertainment hit "Strictly Come Dancing".