Belfast Telegraph

BBC boss pledges to value contribution of gender pay gap letter signatories

Clare Balding, Victoria Derbyshire and Angela Rippon are among more than 40 women to have signed the open letter.

The Director-General of the BBC said he will “value (the) contribution” of more than 40 senior female presenters and reporters who signed a letter demanding immediate action from him to tackle the gender pay gap.

Lord (Tony) Hall said work was under way to close disparities between how much men and women are paid at the corporation.

His response follows a letter, signed by the likes of Clare Balding, Emily Maitlis and Fiona Bruce, which called for action to sort out pay inequality “now” rather than by Lord Hall’s self-imposed 2020 timescale.

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Clare Balding (Mike Egerton/PA)

Lord Hall said: “Work is already well under way across the organisation to help achieve this.

“There will be wider consultation meetings over the next two months so we can accelerate further change in the autumn. I would obviously value your contribution and thinking as part of this process.

“When figures are published next year I am confident they will look very different.

“When other organisations publish their gender pay data by next April, I want the BBC to be one of the best performers when comparisons are made.

“But, beyond that, over the next three years I want the BBC to be regarded as an exemplar on gender and diversity.”

The original letter, co-ordinated by Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey, came after documents setting out the pay for staff on more than £150,000 showed a sizeable gap in the earnings of the corporation’s best-known male and female presenters and actors.

Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topped the list on more than £2 million while the highest-paid woman was Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000-£499,999.

In the letter, the signatories – including Wimbledon presenter Sue Barker, Today programme journalists Mishal Husain and Sarah Montague and BBC Breakfast regular Sally Nugent – said they would be “prepared to meet” Mr Hall “so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination”.

Lord Hall said: “As I said this week we have taken some significant steps forward but we do need to go further and faster. I hope the change of recent years is proof of my personal commitment to making this happen.

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BBC stars earning over £150,000 in 2016/17, by gender. From PA Graphics.

“When I came back to the BBC I said that we needed to move from having only 14% of women on local radio breakfast shows to 50%. We achieved that in two years.

“I also said we needed to have a 50/50 split on all presenting and lead roles by 2020.

“You only have to look at our drama and entertainment programmes to see what can be achieved.”

Presenter Andrew Marr, who is paid up to £449,999, said he received a high salary because he had been around for a long time.

Speaking on his Sunday morning show, he said: “People like me, I have been around for a long time, we get paid more because we have got experience.

“I’m a bit grizzled, going a bit weird around the edges.

“But if I had been born Audrey Marr rather than Andrew Marr, I would have been out 10 years ago.

“There’s a real lack of older women on the screen.”

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Anna Soubry (Yui Mok/PA)

Tory former minister Anna Soubry, a former television presenter, said she kept a “very beady eye” on pay levels when she was a mother of the chapel at a branch of the National Union of Journalists.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would “sign the letter with them” and called on the BBC to “look very hard at itself”.

He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “This gender pay gap is appalling. We would insist on a strong pay audit of every organisation and we’d also look at a 20-1 ratio between the chief executive and the lowest-paid staff in every public-sector organisation.”

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