Herald on Sunday
TV’s $40k gender pay gap
Broadcaster tried to keep the difference secret for more than two years — but was overruled
Male presenters at Television New Zealand earn an average $40,000 more a year than their female counterparts — a gender pay gap the state-owned broadcaster spent two years trying to keep secret. Figures released by TVNZ after a Herald on Sunday investigation show an average gender pay gap of 17 per cent among the highest-profile staff such as Simon Dallow, Wendy Petrie, Hilary Barry and John Campbell. TVNZ says focusing on a group of high profile presenters is misleading — but there are warnings the broadcaster is breaking the law.
Male presenters at Television New Zealand earn an average $40,000 more a year than their female counterparts, a gender pay gap the state-owned broadcaster spent two years trying to keep secret.
Figures released by TVNZ after a two-year investigation and an adverse ruling by the Ombudsman show an average gender pay gap of 17 per cent among the broadcasters’ highest-profile staff such as Simon Dallow, Wendy Petrie, Hilary Barry and John Campbell.
The data shows most of TVNZ’s 20 highest-paid presenters were men, who between 2017-19 earned an average of $254,510 a year. Women in the group were paid $210,597.
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said focusing on a small subset of his organisation’s staff was misleading.
“I think we would all acknowledge the gender pay gap is a real thing across all industries.
We look at it holistically, and the total gender pay gap at TVNZ is 4.6 per cent and we expect that is going to decline further in the next 12 months.”
Employment consultant Dr Miriam Hughes said the Equal Pay Act made the issue clear-cut: “If you are not paying male and female employees who are doing substantially the same work the same pay, you are breaking employment law.”
Kenrick denied TVNZ was in breach of the law.
Hughes was not surprised to hear of the two-year battle required to make the data public: “Once the information is out there and acknowledged, then the pressure is on them to do something about it.”
Requests for an interview with Broadcasting Minister Kris
Faafoi were declined. A spokesman said the minister “doesn’t wish to comment on TVNZ operational decisions”.
Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Karanina Sumeo said Faafoi’s non-response was “not helpful”.
“This being an operational matter? It’s a legal matter, it’s a national matter, this gender pay gap. We need our leaders to not trivialise this.”
Sumeo said the data would assist women within TVNZ, and in related industries, agitate for better pay.
Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter said: “Women working in the media, just like every other sector of society, should be paid fairly for the work they do. Pay transparency enables workers to know how their pay compares with other employees, and drives change to close the gender and ethnic pay gap.”
The Herald on
Sunday first requested gender pay gap information from TVNZ in
January 2018 after controversy in Britain where vast disparities at the BBC for on-air talent triggered resignations of female staff and sweeping pay cuts for male talent.
TVNZ refused to supply information requested under the Official Information Act — a breakdown of average salaries for the 10 highestpaid men and women in on-air and off-air roles — citing privacy concerns. The matter was referred to the Ombudsman who, after a twoyear investigation, ordered the information released with amendments to mitigate privacy issues — expanding the dataset from 10 to 20.
In his decision Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier wrote: “There can be no doubt that the gender pay gap is a significant public issue, touching on core human rights. The Government has recognised the importance of this issue and in
2018 announced a commitment to eliminating the gender pay gap within the public service, of which I note that TVNZ is a part.” Kenrick said his opposition to release was solely motivated by privacy concerns for his staff. “We had a difference of opinion: It went to the referee, and we accept the referee’s decision.” Parallel requests for information to RNZ showed the comparative percentage pay gap — and gross salaries — were around half that of TVNZ. A spokesperson said the broadcaster had policies “specifically aimed at, not just reducing, but eliminating the gender pay gap”. Similar requests to MediaWorks and NZME went unanswered. Neither organisation is subject to the Official Information Act. A MediaWorks spokesperson said they “acknowledge that the gender pay gap is an issue for all industries” and work had begun scoping the scale of the issue for the organisation. NZME radio boss Wendy Palmer said the company was committed to reducing the gender pay gap, and on-air staff were paid according to performance.