Women at the BBC have told MPs they faced “veiled threats” while trying to get equal pay, it was revealed on Tuesday, as the corporation proposed a £320,000 cap on its news presenters’ salaries.
Some 170 women have put forward written evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee ahead of a hearing on Wednesday, accusing the broadcaster of a “longstanding breach of trust, transparency and accountability”. They have also demanded an apology.
“BBC Women are very concerned that this publicly funded body is perpetuating a longstanding breach of its stated values of trust, transparency and accountability,” the evidence reads.
We believe the BBC must put these matters right by admitting the problem, apologising and setting in place an equal, fair and transparent pay structure." Written evidence submitted by BBC Women
Auditors PwC have separately reviewed the pay and diversity of presenters, correspondents and on-air talent, the BBC said.
The upper pay limit will also apply to editors and correspondents, although the plans have not been fully agreed or signed off and those affected by the cap have been the opportunity to respond.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee told ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB) on Tuesday that while capping the pay of top presenters “might be a good idea in its own right, it doesn’t address the wider problems”.
It has not been clarified if on-air staff will be able to earn more from other work at the BBC, such as entertainment programmes on radio and television.
Plans for a cap emerged as BBC director-general Lord Hall is set to be questioned by MPs over the broadcaster’s pay culture which has raged since last summer when the corporation published its salaries for on-air staff earning more than £150,000.
A report by a group representing women at the BBC said they have faced “veiled threats” while trying to raise the subject of pay, while the broadcaster’s China editor, Carrie Gracie, resigned earlier this month in protest at pay inequality.
“While individual BBC managers have been supportive there is still a bunker mentality in some quarters and women have experienced veiled threats made against them when they raised the subject of Equal Pay,” the evidence reads.
“It is interesting to note that following the transparency in the pay of managers earning above £150,000 the incoming female Head of News is being paid the same salary as her male predecessor. This transparency is now needed across the board.”
In case studies presented to the committee, one unnamed national radio presenter recalled how she confronted her bosses about the pay disparity that existed between her and male employees and was told, “the BBC doesn’t do equal pay”, and that in raising the issue I was being “aggressive”.
Eleanor Bradford, who quit BBC Scotland, told GMB that she was paid £10,000 less than her male colleagues doing the same job and claimed the corporation justified the difference by writing different job descriptions.
“Men were given different job descriptions which put them into a different pay scale, but actually when you look at the nuts and bolts of what the male employee was doing and what the female employee was doing, the work was absolutely identical.”
It emerged last week a number of the BBC’s leading male presenters had agreed to have their pay cut in the wake of the row.
The broadcaster said Jeremy Vine, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Nick Robinson and Huw Edwards would take reduced wages.
Figures released in 2017 showed Vine was one of the corporation’s highest paid stars, earning £700,000-£749,999; Humphrys, who presents the Radio 4 Today programme with Robinson, earned between £600,000 and £650,000 and BBC News presenter Edwards earned £550,000-£599,999.
Vine hosts a weekday show on Radio 2, as well as featuring in BBC News’ election coverage, while Humphrys also presents Mastermind on BBC Two.
Veteran broadcaster Humphrys agreed to cut his salary to around £250,000 to £300,000, saying the BBC is now in a different position financially to its past.
Jon Sopel, BBC’s North America editor, has also accepted a pay cut. The figures released last year showed he earned between £200,000-£249,999, while Gracie earned £135,000-a-year.
Radio 2′s Chris Evans topped the 2017 list on more than £2 million, while the highest paid woman was Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000 and £499,999.
BBC Women Cases of Inequality of Pay
(Most women do not wish to give their names out of concern for their BBC careers)
1) TV News Presenter: In 2017 just before the BBC published pay over £150,000, I was called unexpectedly and offered an immediate pay rise. It became apparent that for nearly 3 years I had been sitting next to a man doing an identical job who was being paid tens of thousands of pounds more. As we are both BBC staff that means I have not just missed out on pay, but on pension contributions too. I am told that we are now being paid at the same rate per day, but there is no transparency.
2) BBC Scotland: Eleanor Bradford. I was BBC Scotland’s health correspondent from 2001 - 2016. I discovered I was one of the lowest-paid correspondents at BBC Scotland, despite regularly appearing on UK wide news and delivering exclusive stories. I regularly asked for a pay rise, and eventually cited equal pay legislation. This led to an immediate increase of £5,000 but it was not backdated. I remained around £10,000 below some male colleagues who were doing identical correspondent jobs. In one of my annual appraisals I was told I was a “model correspondent”. I left the BBC.
3) National radio Presenter: I am an award-winning broadcaster with more than 20 years’ experience. In 2014 I was offered a contract to present a flagship arts programme. Two men with no broadcasting experience who had also been given trial shifts presenting the programme during the search for a new presenter were paid 25% more per programme. Then I found out that the existing male presenter was being paid 50% more than me per programme. When I asked for pay gap to be corrected the line manager told me “the BBC doesn’t do equal pay”, and that in raising the issue I was being “aggressive”. I refused to back down and eventually was given the same rate as my male colleague and it was backdated.
4) BBC Reporter: My full time equivalent salary for making identical programmes is about half my male counterpart. I challenged my grade and asked for an equal pay review. The BBC took months to deal with my enquiry and refused to recognise that it was a claim for my legal right to equal pay for equivalent work. Eventually I was offered a series of increases adding up to a total of between 20-25%, with minimal back pay, which I felt I had no option but to accept because of the stress involved. It has brought me nowhere close to the salary of my male colleague. He also gets extra resources for his programmes, at the expense of others. I don’t resent my male colleague. He is talented and deserves it. But we need parity of pay, resources and opportunity.
5) National Broadcaster: Since July I have been offered a 65% pay rise, whilst also being told that the BBC is “satisfied there was no issue of equal pay” in my case. In pay terms this offer would bring me in line with the lowest paid of the presenters who work on the same programme as I do. That is despite my longer service on that programme. In contractual terms I am still disadvantaged as, unlike fellow presenters, I am not on full staff so have not benefited from pension rights accrued over many years.
6) News programme Presenter: When I was appointed to my current job in October 2013, there followed six months of negotiations over my salary. It was eventually set at £53,600 for three days per week. In absolute terms I am well paid and I recognise and appreciate this. However, at the time this sum was agreed, I had no idea of how my pay compared to that of my fellow presenters. On publication of the ‘Talent List’ in July 2017, I learnt that I am paid hundreds of thousands less than some of my colleagues. I am also paid £45,000 less than my immediate male predecessor. No one has explained to me how such a discrepancy can be justified.
7) Sports Broadcaster: I have worked for the BBC for almost 30 years, both staff and freelance. I present major sports coverage on national radio. In 2017 my contract was worth £19,000 for 50 days, reporting and presenting. This is an average day rate of £380. When I present one of the flagship radio sports programmes I am paid £500. I have been told the male presenter is paid £1200. Since raising the issue of equal pay I have been offered £650 which is still a long way short of equal pay. What you are worth is solely at the whim of management who essentially in sport are always men. I’m at the top of my game, knowledgeable and with three decades of experience yet I’m scratching around to earn a living.
8) UK based On Air Editor: In 2017 I discovered one of the male UK based Editors reporting for the same flagship programmes is paid between 50% and 100% more. Since then it has become apparent other male on air Editors making equivalent news pieces, for the same news programmes, are also paid significantly more. The BBC has refused to accept there is an equal pay issue, but offered me an on the spot 10% increase. I have not accepted as it does not resolve the wider issue around pay inequality.
9) Nations and Regions Presenter: I have co presented with a male colleague for many years. Despite working fewer hours than me, he earns more. Pro rata, I estimate he’s paid around double what I earn for doing the same job. Both colleagues and the public would consider us equals. I raised the equal pay issue many times over the years, but nothing was done.
10) Sport Editor: I lead a sports team in a big city with premier league teams in our patch. There are few women in equivalent jobs, none in a big city. I believe I have been paid less than my male counterparts across the UK for most of the time I have been doing this job. Four men doing the same job have confirmed their salary is higher by up to £10,000. I have no confidence in the BBC review process. I tried asking for equal pay in 2017 and recently heard it is still under review.
11) Reporter Radio 4: In 2017 I submitted an equal pay claim after finding out that a male colleague was being paid £7,000 more for doing the same job. I made little progress, so I began a formal grievance. A few days before the hearing I was called in and offered £4,500 extra a year. I was told it was not because they thought I had an equal pay claim, but a reward for hard work. I am considering further action as they refuse to back date my pay.
12) National Radio Presenter: I have worked alongside my male co-host for 6 years so far and for all that time have been paid at one third of the rate he is paid. We work broadly the same hours with equal production input into the programme. Pay query raised in autumn 2016 only to be told there was no issue. Pay revised July 2017. Case still subject to negotiation and part of NUJ collective grievance.
13) Presenter National Radio: I used to present a breakfast news programme in BBC local radio. In 2013 Tony Hall set a target to increase the number of women presenting in local stations. Shortly afterwards I was told my job was at risk and then that I could stay, but only on half my previous salary. It was also half of the amount being paid to my then male co-presenter. As the sole breadwinner I eventually had no choice but to leave. I now present on BBC national radio and earn what I believe is less than half of my current male co presenter for the demanding show we both present.
14) Presenter Regional News: I am one of two main presenters on a Regional TV News programme. I have the same role as my male colleague, contracted to the same number of hours and days per year. I am often called upon to present more demanding programmes, such as election debates, in preference to my male colleague. I have 28 years experience as a journalist. In 2012 I became aware my male colleague’s salary, which was a third more than the figure I had been offered. Despite assurances of a comprehensive pay review, none was forthcoming. There was a point blank refusal to a request for equal pay. Eventually I was given a 5% increase in 2017. I can’t see any justification for the pay gap which remains.