Six of the BBC’s leading male presenters have agreed to take pay cuts after revelations over equal salaries. The BBC said Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Vine had all accepted reduced wages.The move follows Carrie Gracie’s resignation as BBC China editor in protest at unequal pay between male and female international editors. Humphrys said he would be earning “hugely less” than the £600,000 he was.The move comes after the BBC revealed the pay of on-air talent earning over £150,000 in July. Two-thirds of stars on the list, including the top seven earners, were men.
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Humphrys, the presenter on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme and Mastermind, was revealed to have earned between £600,000 and £649,999 in 2016/17.He refused to confirm or deny reports that his pay packet had been halved, to £250,000-£300,000, but did say his new salary would be “a lot less than £600,000”.He said he had, in fact, taken a total of three pay cuts. “It seemed fair,” he told BBC News. “The BBC used to have, in the good old days, an awful lot of money.”It no longer has an awful lot of money. I was earning a lot of money and it seemed entirely proper to me that I should take a few pay cuts.”Of the six men, Radio 2 and Eggheads presenter Jeremy Vine was the best-paid of the group, earning between £700,000-£749,999 in 2016/17.Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North America editor, earned the least, in the £200,000-£249,999 bracket – compared to Carrie Gracie’s £135,000-a-year salary.
The BBC did not comment how much the presenters would now receive.A BBC statement 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. “These are great journalists and presenters, who have a real connection with the audience. We are proud to have them working at the BBC. “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.”
On his way into work at Radio 2 on Friday, Vine was asked by reporters why he had agreed to a lower wage.”I think it needs to be sorted out and I support my female colleagues who have rightly said they should be paid the same when they’re doing the same job,” he said.”It’s just a no-brainer, so it wasn’t a problem for me to accept one [a pay cut].”An independent audit into equal pay at the BBC will be published next week.When the list of the best-paid BBC presenters that was published last summer, Chris Evans was at the top, earning between £2.2m and £2.25m in 2016/2017.The highest-paid woman, Claudia Winkleman, earned significantly less – between £450,000 and £500,000.
BBC media editor Amol Rajan said while competition in the entertainment industry had intensified, the opposite had happened in news.”Many of those now taking pay cuts secured generous deals years ago,” he said. “That world has disappeared – and these presenters now accept that a chunk of their salaries will have to disappear with it.”
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After leaving her post as China editor, Gracie is now returning to the BBC newsroom in London, saying she expects to be “paid equally”.She is due to appear before a select committee of MPs on Wednesday next week, shortly before director general of the BBC Tony Hall, his deputy Anne Bulford and director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth.They were called to discuss what action the corporation is taking to address the gender pay gap.Damian Collins MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said: “While it is admirable that these BBC presenters want to show solidarity for their female colleagues by taking a pay cut, it doesn’t address the fundamental issues of pay inequality that Carrie Gracie and others have raised.”He added that they would hear from Gracie and senior BBC figures at the committee session.There have been three investigations into gender pay at the BBC:A report was published in October, in line with a requirement on all large organisations. It found the gender pay gap at the BBC was 9.3%, against a national average of 18.1%
A judge-led audit of equal pay among rank-and-file staff published at the same time found there was “no question of any systemic gender discrimination”
A review into the BBC’s approach to the pay of on-air presenters, editors and correspondents is due to be published next week
Lord Hall pledged to close the gap by 2020, saying the corporation should be “an exemplar of what can be achieved when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation”.
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