The BBC Pays Its Top Man 5 Times What It Pays Its Top Woman

July 19, 2017, 1:59 PM UTC
Salaries For Top Talent Revealed By The BBC
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 19: A general of the BBC sign at BBC Broadcasting House at Portland Place on July 19, 2017 in London, England. The BBC will publish the pay of its top earning employees today as part of the corporation's annual report. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Whether in news or sport, presenting or acting, TV or radio, the BBC’s male stars routinely earn a multiple of the women who do the same job. Soccer star Gary Lineker, for example, pockets over 1.75 million pounds, almost all of it for a once-a-week soccer highlights show, while Clare Balding, its lead female sports presenter, earns less than 200,000 pounds for a much broader range of duties. News anchor Huw Edwards, meanwhile, earns at least 40% more than counterpart Fiona Bruce, who is on less than 400,000 pounds. The average gender pay gap for full-time workers in the U.K. is 9.4%, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Read: 3 Reasons Why the Gender Pay Gap Still Exists

The issue of pay at the BBC first became a hot topic after 2008, as years of falling or stagnant real incomes across the U.K. sharpened emotions over income inequality. The vast bulk of the BBC’s funding comes from a mandatory and flat-rate license fee that every household with a TV in the U.K. has to pay. That fee amounts to a regressive tax on lower-income families.

Naming all those who earned over 150,000 pounds a year was part of its latest 10-year funding settlement with the Conservative government.

The Guardian quoted Ruth Gamble, a partner at employment law specialists BDBF in London, as saying that the list has “the makings of a good sex discrimination or equal pay claim.”

“To defeat such a claim, the BBC would have to demonstrate that there is an explanation for the difference, which has nothing to do with gender,” Gamble said “If the disparities are as striking as many expect them to be, it will not be an easy argument.”

Read: Female Programmers Make Nearly 30% Less Than Their Male Counterparts

The BBC holds a central role in British public life, showing everything from royal weddings and sports events to local news and popular dramas through its TV channels, radio stations, and online sites. While respected around the world, it has long been resented by its commercial rivals, who argue the license fee gives it an unfair advantage and distorts the market. However, its status and reach have often enabled it to hire at below the rates paid by private-sector broadcasters.

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