45 BBC women urge action now from Tony Hall on salaries as Claire Balding reveals Women's Hour pays 40 per cent less than other shows

  • Sue MacGregor complained about unequal pay on Today 20 years ago
  • Why are senior female foreign correspondents absent from £150k+ list?
  • 45 BBC women sign open letter urging Tony Hall to take action now on gender pay gap
  • Jeremy Vine ‘paid £80,000’ for work on Scottish independence referendum programme
  • Balding says rate for presenting Woman’s Hour 40 per cent lower than other shows

BBC director general Tony Hall was urged to tackle the issue of gender pay disparity at the broadcaster some 20 years ago when he was head of news.

Sue MacGregor, writing in The Sunday Times, reveals that in 1997 she discovered that she was earning £20,000 less a year than John Humphrys and Jim Naughtie for presenting the Today programme on Radio 4.

She said: “This was despite Tony Hall, who was head of news at the time, claiming somewhat against the evidence that it was ‘basic policy’ that ‘there is an equivalence between all the Today presenters’.”

She added that one male colleague was given a large increase to prevent them leaving to a commercial station which was offering £300,000.

She said she eventually managed to negotiate a new deal which she was told put all three main presenters at the time within a “tiny percentage of each other”.

MacGregor added: “In my view, some of the BBC’s most precious assets in both radio and television lie elsewhere: They comprise its domestic and foreign correspondents, many of whom work fantastically long hours covering stories live on air with admirable clarity and skill often in difficult circumstances.”

She asked why BBC China editor Carrie Gracie, Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin and Europe editor Kate Adler are all missing from the list of £150k+ earners.

Some 45 senior women (full list at the bottom of this story) at the BBC have signed an open letter urging director general Tony Hall to end sexist pay disparity at the corporation now – rather than by 2020 as he has promised.

The letter reads: “Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate.

“However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values.

“You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years.

“We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”

It adds: “Beyond the list, there are so many other areas including production, engineering and support services, and global, regional and local media where a pay gap has languished for too long.

“This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all, and for an organisation that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing.”

Those signing the letter include many who featured on last week’s list of BBC staff who earn more than £150,000, including:

  • Fiona Bruce: £350,000-£399,999
  • Mishal Husain: £200,000-£249,999
  • Kirsty Wark: £150,000-£199,999.

The Sunday Times revealed yesterday that three presenters of BBC One’s Rip Off Britain – Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville – are paid £53,000 each for a show which attracts audiences of up to 3.8m.

The paper said that this is more than the number tuning in some nights to watch Gary Lineker present Match of the Day (salary £1.75m).

Women’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey told the paper that a group of female BBC employees “might consider speaking to an employment lawyer, anyone in our position would be thinking the same”.

Signatories of the list include sports presenter Claire Balding, paid £150,000-£200,000, for work on various sports including the Boat Race, Wimbledon and the Olympics. She earned the same amount as former Tennis Player John McEnroe who provides punditry for Wimbledon.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House how she discovered that presenting Radio 4 daytime programme Women’s House paid less than comparable shows.

She said: “I did a few jobs sitting in on different programmes. I did your job at BH, I did Saturday Live, on Radio 4 as well, I did Five Live Weekend Breakfast and Jenni Murray was having a hip replacement at the time and I did Woman’s Hour.

“Afterwards, and you know how these jobs are, you can’t really negotiate much about rates, I mean if you are lucky you might get a free coffee thrown in, but we are not talking about negotiating massive contracts and I was doing it myself, and the Women’s Hour was much – I mean 40 per cent – lower than the other programmes and I said to Jane (Garvey) afterwards ‘this is really odd’, because they wouldn’t budge on it.

“I said: ‘It is significantly lower than doing a weekend breakfast show on Five Live or Radio 4 or indeed BH’.

“I said to her: ‘I think there is a problem here, it is because only women have ever presented it’. It is the first time I thought: ‘Whoa, red flag’.”

Meanwhile the Telegraph reports from a “well placed source” that Jeremy Vine was paid £80,000 for work on the 2014 BBC coverage on the night of the Scottish Referendum.

Full list of BBC women signing open letter to Tony Hall:

  • Aasmah Mir
  • Katya Adler
  • Anita Anand
  • Wendy Austin
  • Samira Ahmed
  • Clare Balding
  • Emma Barnett
  • Zeinab Badawi
  • Sue Barker
  • Rachel Burden
  • Annabel Croft
  • Martine Croxall
  • Victoria Derbyshire
  • Lyse Doucet
  • Jane Garvey
  • Joanna Gosling
  • Fi Glover
  • Carrie Gracie
  • Orla Guerin
  • Karin Giannone
  • Mishal Husain
  • Lucy Hockings
  • Geeta Guru-Murthy
  • Kirsty Lang
  • Gabby Logan
  • Martha Kearney
  • Carolyn Quinn
  • Kasia Madera
  • Katty Kay
  • Emily Maitlis
  • Louise Minchin
  • Sarah Montague
  • Jenni Murray
  • Annita McVeigh
  • Elaine Paige
  • Sally Nugent
  • Angela Rippon
  • Ritula Shah
  • Sarah Smith
  • Kate Silverton
  • Charlotte Smith
  • Kirsty Wark
  • Fiona Bruce
  • Alex Jones.

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