A number of female news presenters at the BBC are to receive substantial pay rises with a raft of male presenters taking pay cuts as the British public broadcaster launched a full scale review of on-air pay.
The BBC published a five-point plan to help “create a fairer and more equal” organisation, carried out in association with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). This comes after the corporation’s gender pay gap came under the spotlight following the high-profile resignation of BBC China editor Carrie Gracie, prompting the UK’s Culture Secretary Matt Hancock to call for the BBC to act on the issue.
Subsequent to this, six male presenters – Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Vine – agreed to have their pay reduced.
The BBC will now go even further and make “substantial” pay cuts for other male prsenters and increases for female, and some male presenters. It claimed that it has already addressed close to half of the 230 cases raised of pay unfairness and equality by women and men – on and off air and aims to conclude the rest by the summer.
The review, which covers around 800 presenters, found that too many pay decisions were being made at local levels because of the absence of clear pay frameworks, there was a lack of clarity and openness about the basis for pay decisions because of the absence of pay ranges for on-air roles and there was a slower rate of pay progression for both men and women over the past decade because of a period of significant pay restraint.
PwC has now recommended introducing a clear pay framework, narrower pay ranges, simpler contracts and allowances and improved transparency. The BBC said that where there are more than 20 people in a job, staff will also be able to see where everyone else is positioned and it will do more to explain the pay of each presenter paid over £150,000 (US$210,000), especially where they do more than one role.
Director-General Tony Hall said the BBC believes in “equality”. “No one should be paid differently because of their gender. The BBC has a special role representing Britain. That is why we need to be and want to be an exemplar on gender pay, and equal pay. Today’s report does not find evidence of gender bias in decision-making, but it shows that we have real and important issues to tackle, particularly in some areas of news and current affairs, and I’m determined to get it right. The plans we’re setting out today go further and are more important steps in modernising the BBC and making it fairer.
“We’ve already made an important start. We’re addressing unfairness in individuals’ pay and want to close the gender pay gap and have women in half of our on-air roles by 2020. Those are big, bold commitments I’m really serious about. We are clear we’re going to tackle this and change for the better, and I hope other organisations take the same approach. The BBC can and must lead the way. I am determined that we will,” he added.