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170 female BBC stars demand apology over pay row

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Emily Reynolds
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A group of BBC women have demanded an apology – and back pay – following the pay row. 

170 women employed by the BBC have demanded an apology and back pay, claiming that the company “broke equality laws” by not paying them fairly. 

They’re also asking for adjustments to their pensions. 

The group has provided 14 examples ahead of a Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee on Wednesday (31 January) – examples they say will “demonstrate” the BBC’s failure to provide equal pay. One radio presenter says she was told by a manager that she was being “aggressive” by raising the issue of equal pay: “the BBC doesn’t do equal pay,” they told her. 

And BBC Scotland’s health correspondent, Eleanor Bradford, said she only received a pay rise when she “cited equal pay legislation – after which she was “still £10,000 below male colleagues doing identical correspondent jobs”. 

“I do hope that there will be change, but I think nevertheless the spotlight should be shown on this because I think the change isn’t happening fast enough,” she said on the Today programme. 

Carrie Gracie stepped down from her role as the BBC’s China Editor due to the gender pay gap

Other complaints are being put forward anonymously, including a reporter who was paid half her male counterpart’s salary for making “identical programmes”, a sports broadcaster with over 30 years experience at the BBC being paid “less than half than the male presenter” on a flagship radio show and a presenter who was “paid tens of thousands” less than a man sat next to her doing the same job. 

One “award-winning broadcaster on a flagship arts programme” also found out that her male colleague was being paid 50% more per show. “When I asked for (the) 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,” she said. 

BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan has suggested that the BBC aims to introduce “a pay cap of £320,000 for its news presenters” to address some of the issues. But Damian Collins, chair of the select committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the pay cap “didn’t address’ his concerns. 

“It actually affects a relatively small number of people,” he said. “If you look at the grievances that Carrie Gracie brought forward, saying she wasn’t paid the same amount as other international editors at the BBC, this new proposed pay cap wouldn’t have addressed that at all.”

He said that the review must go “much broader” – also incorporating issues from across the BBC, including in entertainment and sport. 

“Many people would look at [sport] and say, ‘why is it that Gary Lineker is paid many multiples of what Clare Balding is paid?’ Many people would say she does a job of equal value, working on many different outlets for the BBC and covering a wide range of sports. And that’s why this review must go much broader than that.”

“We want to help women progress in their career and have set out ambitious targets to close the gender pay gap, filled by women. We’ve also set out action to achieve them,” a BBC spokesperson said ahead of the committee. 

“We have already set out how we plan to deliver real pay transparency for our staff, and today we’ll publish proposals to significantly change how we manage on-air pay so we have a clear, transparent and fair system for the future.”

Images: Rex Features

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Emily Reynolds

Emily Reynolds is a journalist and author based in London. Her first book, A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind, came out in February 2017 with Hodder & Stoughton. She is currently working on her second.  

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