Top Male BBC Presenters Agree to Pay Cuts After Gender Pay Gap Revelations

A step in the right direction towards pay equality?

Top Male BBC Presenters Agree to Pay Cuts After Gender Pay Gap Revelations

by Aida Amoako |
Published on

The BBC announced today that some of their top male presenters will agree to take pay cuts. This comes after revelations about unequal pay and after Carrie Grace’s resignation from her position as the BBC’s China editor earlier this month.

Amol Rajan, the BBC’s media editor reported that Radio 4 Today presenter Jon Humphrys and North America editor Jon Sopel are among the few who have either agreed or are in talks to receive pay cuts to their six figures salaries. Sopel and Humphrys were alreadyin the spotlight after a transcript of a conversation between them about the pay gap was leaked earlier this month. Humphrys was heard telling Sopel: “Dear God, she’s actually suggested that you should lose money; you know that, don’t you? You’ve read the thing properly, have you?”

The “she” they were referring to was Carrie Gracie and the “thing” is the open letter she published in the Guardian outlining her reasons for resigning, citing the ‘indefensible pay gap between men and women doing equal work.’ Last July, the BBC were forced to disclose the salaries of their employees who earned over £150,000 a year. It revealed that just a third of the highest paid presenters were women.

Gracie herself first put in a formal complaint in August when she found out that she received far less than her fellow international editors Jon Sopel and Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. Sopel was paid between £200,000 and £249,000 while Gracie earned £135,000. Before she resigned in January, the BBC actually offered her a £45,000 pay rise. However, Gracie’s complaint was never that she felt that she was underpaid. In fact, she acknowledged she was paid well ‘especially as someone working for a publicly funded organisation.’ The BBC’s attempt to placate Gracie with a 33% pay rise shows that they either did not understand her complaint – that the BBC’s pay structure violates the Equality Act -- or they thought she would cave at the offer of more money.

However, Gracie rejected the offer. She still would have been earning less than Bowen and Sopel. It wasn’t more money Gracie was after but the parity with the other international editors she had expected and had been promised when she took on the role of China editor. She had already hinted in the open letter that she thought several employees were overpaid, hence Humphrys' comment about Sopel losing money.

In response to the leak, Humphrys told the Times it was all just banter and mickey taking. Humphrys, who is paid over £600,000, “joked” that he could hand over Sopel’s entire salary and would still be left with more than everybody else. Now he, along with Sopel, Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine and BBC News presenter Huw Edwards are set to take pay cuts although it has yet to be revealed the extent to which their pay will be reduced. Humphrys’ fellow Radio 4 Today presenter Nick Robinson is also said to be following suit and Radio 5 Live presenter Nicky Campbell announced to his followers he too would receive a pay cut.

Earlier this month on Women’s Hour, Gracie explained her reasons for leaving saying that she couldn’t ‘stay silent and watch the BBC perpetuate a failing pay structure by discriminating against women.’ She is now planning to return to the BBC on the condition she receives equal pay. She will also appear before a select committee of MPs next week, along with the BBC’s top brass, to talk about what the corporation are doing to tackle the gender pay gap.

A review of how the BBC pay their on-air presenters, editors and correspondents is due to come out next week. Lord Tony Hall, the director general has also pledged to close the pay gap in the next two years, stating that the wants the BBC be ‘an exemplar of what can be achieved when it comes to pay, fairness, gender, and representation.

**Follow Aida on Twitter @**kidisalrightkidisalright

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us