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More than 40 women sign letter

Female presenters urge BBC action on pay

Sarah Smith - BBC
Sarah Smith
Fiona Bruce
Fiona Bruce

More than 40 of the BBC’s best-known female personalities have accused the corporation of failing to meet standards on equal pay.

Publication last week of a list of the BBC’s top earners has revealed huge differences in the earnings for men and women, some for doing the same job.

Presenters such as Clare Balding, Victoria Derbyshire and Kirsty Wark have now signed an open letter to Director-General Tony Hall urging him to “correct this disparity”.

They also include the BBC’s Scotland editor Sarah Smith, UK news anchor and Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce and Wimbledon presenter Sue Barker have added their names requesting immediate action, instead of Lord Hall’s self-imposed 2020 timescale for meeting parity.

Chris Evans: top earner

The list, revealed under the terms of the BBC Charter renewal, showed that Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans earns more than £2 million, while the highest paid woman was Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000-£499,999.

The signatories say they are prepared to meet Lord Hall to discuss their concerns.

It reads: “The pay details released in the Annual report showed what many of us have suspected for many years … that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work.

“Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values.

“You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years.

“We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”

The letter goes on: “Beyond the list, there are so many other areas including production, engineering and support services and global, regional and local media where a pay gap has languished for too long.

“This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all, and for an organisation that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing.

“We would be willing to meet you to discuss ways in which you can correct this disparity so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination.”

A BBC spokesman said: “We have made significant changes over the last three years but need to do more. Tony Hall has pledged the BBC will go further faster.

“Across the BBC, the average pay of men is 10% higher than women. The national average is 18%.

“We are committing to closing it by 2020 – something no other organisation has committed to doing.

“The BBC’s workforce has been hired over generations and this is complex and cannot be done overnight.

“We are, however, confident that when these figures are published again next year they will show significant progress towards that goal.

“Tony Hall meets staff all the time and will of course meet individuals to hear their thoughts as we work to accelerate change.”

Prime Minister Theresa May called for women and men to be paid equally.

She said: “Lord Hall has said that he wants to change this. He wants to make progress. He wants to abolish this gender pay gap. “We want to see him doing that too. And I think it’s important the BBC carries on publishing figures in the future so that we can see the progress that they’re making.”


Comment: Paying the price of BBC excess


Full list of signatories:

Aasmah Mir

Katya Adler

Anita Anand

Wendy Austin

Samira Ahmed

Clare Balding

Emma Barnett

Zeinab Badawi

Sue Barker

Fiona Bruce

Rachel Burden

Annabel Croft

Martine Croxall

Victoria Derbyshire

Katie Derham

Lyse Doucet

Jane Garvey

Joanna Gosling

Fi Glover

Carrie Gracie

Orla Guerin

Karin Giannone

Mishal Husain

Lucy Hockings

Geeta Guru-Murthy

Alex Jones

Kirsty Lang

Gabby Logan

Martha Kearney

Carolyn Quinn

Kasia Madera

Katty Kay

Emily Maitlis

Louise Minchin

Sarah Montague

Jenni Murray

Annita McVeigh

Elaine Paige

Sally Nugent

Angela Rippon

Ritula Shah

Sarah Smith

Kate Silverton

Charlotte Smith

Kirsty Wark

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