BBC gender pay gap: Confusion as corporation reports leading male presenters to reduce salaries only to backtrack

John Humphrys, Huw Edwards, Jon Sopel and Jeremy Vine are all reportedly set to have their salaries reduced

Friday 26 January 2018 12:00
Leaked audio of John Humphrys and Jon Sopel discussing Carrie Gracie's gender pay dispute

Confusion reigned after the BBC reported that a group of the corporation's senior male news presenters had agreed to take a pay cut, only to later backtrack.

The BBC News website originally claimed that John Humphrys, Huw Edwards, Jon Sopel and Jeremy Vine, had all agreed, either formally or in principle, to a pay cut.

But it later changed that to say that DJ Nicky Campbell had agreed to a pay cut and cited its media editor Amol Rajan as saying that Jeremy Vine, John Humphrys and Huw Edwards had agreed to the cut.

Jon Sopel was said to be in discussions with the corporation.

A BBC spokesperson told The Independent: “The BBC has agreed pay cuts with a number of leading BBC News presenters and others have agreed in principle.”

Breakfast host Campbell confirmed, while on-air, that he was taking a pay cut.

After a news story about male presenters was read out, the Scottish broadcaster confirmed he was also on the list, telling his co-presenter "you're not going to interview me are you?"

He added: "It's all very civilised and collegiate."

Radio 2 host Vine also eventually confirmed he was taking a pay cut, telling the BBC News Channel: "I think it all needs to be sorted out and I support my female colleagues who have rightly said that they should be paid the same when they are doing the same job. It is just a no-brainer, so it wasn't a problem for me to accept one."

Hours after the original story broke, a BBC spokesman said: "We are very grateful to Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson, and Jeremy Vine, who have agreed that their pay will now be reduced."

They added: "The final details of some of these changes are still being discussed and there are further conversations that the BBC will have with others in due course."

It was also confirmed that Radio 4 Today host Nick Robinson has also taken a pay cut.

It comes after the BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie resigned from her role in protest at unequal pay, and called for men and women at the corporation to be paid the same.

In her highly publicised resignation letter, Ms Gracie said she was stepping down from her China editor role in protest at a “secretive and illegal” gender pay gap at the BBC.

She later said she could not “stay silent and watch the BBC perpetuate a failing pay structure by discriminating against women.”

She received widespread support from many of her fellow journalists and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it would look into claims of unlawful pay discrimination at the corporation.

Last year, the broadcaster published a list of its top earners, setting out the pay for staff on more than £150,000, revealing a shocking gap in the earnings of its most well-known male and female presenters and actors.

It revealed that two-thirds of BBC staff who earn more than £150,000 are male.

Radio 2’s Chris Evans was the highest earner at the BBC earning more than £2 million a year while the highest paid woman was Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000 and £499,999.

In 2016/17 Mr Vine earned between £700,000 and £749,000, Mr Humphrys earned between £600,000 and £649,000, Mr Edwards between £550,000 and £599,999 and Mr Sopel £200,000 and £249,999.

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Mr Humphrys and Mr Sopel caused controversy after an off-air conversation they had about the gender pay gap was recorded and published.

The pair had apparently joked about “handing over” pay to keep Carrie Gracie, the former BBC China editor who resigned in protest at unequal pay, in her job.

Mr Humphrys told ITV News he backed equal pay, stating: “We are in habit, Jon and I, of winding each other up and the purpose of this jokey – I emphasise jokey – exchange was a bit of mutual mickey-taking, and that is all it was.”

The BBC said at the time it was “committed to getting its pay structures right” and that it was conducting a “comprehensive analysis” of presenter pay.

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