Senior BBC male journalists agree pay cuts after inequality row

Jeremy Vine, John Humphrys and Huw Edwards among those taking salary cuts

BBC presenter Jeremy Vine pictured leaving Broadcasting House. He is one of a group of senior male employees to take a pay cut.

BBC presenter Jeremy Vine pictured leaving Broadcasting House. He is one of a group of senior male employees to take a pay cut.

 

Some of the highest paid male BBC journalists have agreed to pay cuts, the broadcaster said on Friday*, following revelations that its top male news reporters and presenters were earning significantly more than women doing similar jobs.

Radio broadcasters Jeremy Vine and John Humphrys and news anchor Huw Edwards are among those to have agreed either formally or in principle to salary cuts, the BBC said on its website.

North America editor Jon Sopel was also said on Friday morning to have agreed to a pay cut. The BBC later updated its own story to say he was “believed to be in discussions with the corporation on the issue”, and then subsequently confirmed in a further update that had accepted a reduced wage.

The updated story quoted radio presenter Nicky Campbell, who told listeners that he had taken a cut. Former political editor Nick Robinson, who co-presents Radio 4’s Today programme, was also added to the group, taking the number of men confirmed to have agreed to a pay cut to six.

Funded by a licence fee levied on television viewers, the BBC is closely scrutinised and held to exacting standards by the public and rival media. Pay disclosures made last July, which it had resisted, highlighted a broader debate about gender inequality.

Director-general Tony Hall pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020, but the organisation has been criticised by its own journalists and by lawmakers for not acting fast enough.

Its China editor Carrie Gracie, who was paid significantly less than her male counterparts, resigned her role last month to fight against what she called the “secretive and illegal BBC pay culture”.

Sopel earned between £200,000 and £249,999 in 2016/17, the disclosures showed, while Gracie said she was paid £135,000 a year as China editor. Both she and the BBC’s Europe editor, Katya Adler, were paid less than Sopel and the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, who is paid between £150,000 and £199,999.

Unknown cuts

The BBC said the level of the cuts was not yet known.

The highest paid of the four men who have agreed to take a cut was Jeremy Vine, who earned between £700,000 and £749,999 pounds for radio and TV work. Today radio programme presenter Humphrys earned between £600,000 and £649,999, while news anchor Edwards was paid between £550,000 and £599,999.

Campbell earned between £400,000 and £449,999 before agreeing to a cut. His co-presenter on the 5 Live breakfast show, Rachel Burden, was not on the list of disclosed salaries as it only included the salaries of BBC presenters who were paid more than £150,000.

Burden later volunteered that she earned £130,000 for her role and said female journalists at the BBC had been “ignored or belittled” when they asked senior managers whether they were paid the same as comparable male colleagues.

Robinson received £250,000-£299,999, the disclosures revealed. Female presenters of Today were paid less, with Mishal Husain earning £200,000-£249,999 and Sarah Montague not on the list, meaning she was paid less than £150,000. Montague called the pay gap “unfair” and “damaging”.

Tony Hall and Carrie Gracie will be questioned about BBC pay by a committee of lawmakers on Wednesday.

-Reuters

*This story has been amended to reflect BBC News’s updates to its story.