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Presenting Points Of View ‘easy money’, BBC executive said

The comment came in an email which has been put before an employment tribunal over an equal pay claim by Samira Ahmed.

Jeremy Vine (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Jeremy Vine (David Mirzoeff/PA)

By Tom Pilgrim, PA

A BBC executive described presenting work on a TV show previously hosted by Jeremy Vine as “easy money” during discussions about the presenter’s future pay.

In an email sent to other corporation bosses in January 2018, Jon Swain, then head of unscripted productions for BBC Studios, suggested stand-in presenters for Points Of View had welcomed the opportunity as it was “so little work”.

Vine was paid £3,000 per episode for presenting the 15-minute BBC One programme between 2008 and 2018, before accepting a pay cut to £1,300 per episode.

It's easy money as it's so little work Jon Swain

The possibility of such a reduction was mentioned in Mr Swain’s email covering pay negotiations in early 2018, in which he wrote: “Jeremy has been pretty understanding and indicated… that he’d want £1500 (think that’s half his current rate) but hinted that he would probably settled at £1300.

“I believe stand-in presenters have been paid £1k and been very happy (it’s easy money as it’s so little work).”

The email was revealed in documents put before an employment tribunal over an equal pay claim by fellow presenter Samira Ahmed.

Ahmed is seeking nearly £700,000 in back pay for November 2012 to February 2019, claiming she did similar work to Vine while presenting Newswatch.

The BBC rejects the claim and says the work is not comparable.

Ahmed’s claim is in relation to being paid £440 per episode for Newswatch, an audience-led critique of BBC News coverage.

The BBC has argued it was justified in paying Ahmed less than Vine due to differences in news and entertainment shows.

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Samira Ahmed (Aaron Chown/PA)

The corporation’s director of strategy Gautam Rangarajan previously told the tribunal the personalities of the presenters did not greatly affect the appeal of news programmes such as Newswatch, but had a role in non-news programmes including Points Of View.

In written evidence to the tribunal, Simon Miller, series producer of Points Of View since March 2016, said presenting the programme required someone to have “a glint in your eye”.

Mr Miller, who was not involved in contractual negotiations with Vine, said the show was a mixture of a “cheeky”, light-hearted tone when appropriate, without ever being “dismissive” of the BBC, and praised Vine’s work.

He said: “Getting the right balance required care. One reason why Jeremy was so good at presenting the show was because he was able to strike that balance.

“He was the audience’s friend when he was presenting and interviewing. That is why when letters were sent to the show, many were addressed ‘Dear Jeremy’. In that sense, he really was the show.”

He said a claim by Ahmed that making Points Of View “required minimal effort” from Vine was “not a fair description”.

Mr Miller said Vine would help make changes to the show’s script, “projecting his personality” on it, as well watching the programmes it covered and on rare occasions conducting interviews without asking for extra pay.

Vine announced he was to stop presenting Points Of View in July 2018.

The tribunal continues.

PA

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