Great reveal starts BBC revolt at gender pay gap
BRITAIN: The BBC faces spending millions of pounds to boost female broadcasters’ salaries after stars threatened action over a gender pay divide.
Salaries of on-screen and on-air presenters earning £150,000 (NZ$266,000) or more were published yesterday, revealing the Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, 51, as the BBC’s best-paid celebrity.
He received up to £2.25 million in the last financial year. Gary Lineker, 56, the Match of the Day host, was paid up to £1.8m. Claudia Winkleman, 45, who presents Strictly Come Dancing, was the topearning woman, on up to £500,000.
Two-thirds of the corporation’s 96 highest earners are men and the top five collectively made three times the salaries of the five bestpaid women.
A race divide was also criticised after it emerged that Evans received roughly the same as all black and minority ethnic highearners put together. The 10 BME broadcasters on the list collectively earned up to £2.24m.
Female broadcasters whose salaries fell below the £150,000 threshold included Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray who present Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent, and Emily Maitlis, a presenter on Newsnight on BBC Two.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said the list should have a deflationary effect on top wages amid reports the government would push the BBC to cut rather than raise pay to tackle the divide.
Alex Armitage, chief executive of Noel Gay, the talent agency that represents Maitlis, 46, said her absence was ‘‘beyond madness’’. He suggested she had an immediate chance of a pay rise.
‘‘Emily has been out of contract for a while and contract negotiations have been going on for months,’’ he said.
Garvey, 53, was ‘‘incandescent with rage’’ at the gender disparity. She said she was in touch with five other female radio presenters and warned: ‘‘If the BBC thinks we’re not talking to each other, we are ... Women have learnt a few things and I would argue it’s a good time to start acting on what they’ve learnt.’’
She said of Eddie Mair, 51, who presents PM on Radio 4 and receives up to £350,000: ‘‘Eddie is really good at what he does. But whether he is twice as good ... as Jenni Murray and I are, or more than twice, I don’t know, because he earns more than twice as much as we do. Of course he is on five days a week, which I’m not.’’
Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘‘We have seen the way the BBC is paying women less for doing the same job as the men ... I want to see women paid equally.’’
Tony Axon, a media analyst, told Stephen Nolan, a BBC Radio 5 Live host who was revealed to be earning up to £450,000, that the disclosure would lead to the corporation’s salary bill rising.
‘‘This will be inflationary, publishing this information,’’ he said. ‘‘People down the list will start interpreting ... the £150,000 will become a target, almost a minimum target. And other people up near the top of the scale, their agents will be acting to make sure they stay there and move forward. So it will be inflationary, but it’s right that we should know.’’
The government required the BBC to publish stars’ salaries under the terms of its new royal charter but some Tory politicians criticised the policy. The former minister Anna Soubry said: ‘‘I take objection on behalf of these people who have had their names and their salaries exposed in this completely undignified way.’’
Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the BBC director-general, said that there was ‘‘more to do’’ on tackling the gender pay gap, which he has pledged to close by 2020. Asked whether the salary budget would have to rise, he said: ‘‘The settlement we have got with the government means that we have flat funding for the next five years.’’
Labour indicated it would slash the income of top-earning BBC stars if it became the government. – The Times