Sunday 20 October 2019

Victoria Derbyshire and Naga Munchetty sign open letter on BBC pay

They say more information would save the broadcaster money.

Victoria Derbyshire (Ian West/PA)
Victoria Derbyshire (Ian West/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

BBC stars have signed an open letter calling for “full pay transparency” at the corporation.

Victoria Derbyshire, Naga Munchetty, Carrie Gracie and Dan Snow are among the signatories.

Last year, a list of the BBC’s biggest earners, topped by Radio 2’s Chris Evans on more than £2 million, revealed a gap in the pay-packets of its best-known male and female stars.

But the letter, which was published in The Guardian, calls for “transparency about what everyone earns” at the BBC.

It says that “transparency is by far the most effective way to uncover pay discrimination of all kinds” and adds: “We believe it will save a lot of money. Our pay structure is likely to flatten as very high salaries become even harder to justify”.

Naga Munchetty (Ian West/PA)

The BBC said in a statement that “we already have a project planned to look at transparency at the BBC which will consider, among other things, whether all salaries from the licence fee should be published and what other measures are necessary that wouldn’t put the BBC at a competitive disadvantage”.

It added: “The BBC already publishes more information about itself, its operations and its staff than any other broadcaster. We are already committed to going further and faster than any other organisation in closing our gender pay gap.”

The letter calls for publication of individual salaries and benefits and other payments through BBC Studios and all commercial arms.

But the BBC said that, as BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide were not funded by the licence fee, “it would be wrong to put them at a competitive disadvantage at a time we should be doing all we can to support British content against the global west coast giants”.

It cited a project “to do all we can to help the progression and culture for women within the organisation”.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall (Justin Tallis/PA)

BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall recently faced questions from MPs about pay imbalance after Gracie resigned as the BBC’s China editor over unequal pay.

In January, a review commissioned by the BBC concluded that there was “no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making”.

Of the BBC staff who are on-air presenters, editors and correspondents in news and news-related areas, the review cited a 6.8% gender pay gap, lower than the 9.3% BBC average.

BBC Women, which includes presenters such as Jane Garvey, Mishal Husain and Derbyshire, criticised the on-air review.

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