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BBC figures on gender pay and diversity “encouraging” but more work needs to be done

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2 July 2019

Latest BBC figures which show the pay gender gap falling and one in five of the top earners from a black and minority ethnic backgrounds are encouraging, the NUJ said, as the list of the corporation’s top earners was published.

The BBC said its gender pay gap had gone down from 7.6 per cent to 6.7 per cent. In 2017, the BBC had a mean gender gap of 10.7 per cent (median 9.3 per cent).  The report said the gender pay gap is now 3 per cent or less at every grade. Of the 75 presenters listed, 60 per cent were men, down from 65 per cent when the list was first published in 2017.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“Figures showing that the gender pay gap is falling and more people from a BAME background featuring in the top earners list at the BBC is encouraging. But there is still more work to do and the BBC needs to continue working with the joint unions to ensure that measures to improve equality and diversity are a priority. The BBC needs to make greater strides in improving the diversity of senior management. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating equal pay at the BBC and the union still has many outstanding cases that need to be settled. The rest of the broadcasting and media industry, which in some cases has shocking gender pay gaps and much worse diversity figures, should look to the BBC and emulate its effort to have a more representative workforce on and off-screen and air.
“The BBC can be commended for its list of programme hits, awards, increase in global reach (to 426m adults, a 13 per cent increase) and success of BBC online (77 per cent of all UK adults and 89 per cent of 18-34-year olds). But the union fears this level of quality is put at jeopardy by the corporation taking on the benefit of free TV licences for the over-75s, albeit those on pensioner credit. We predicted that by accepting this dreadful Treasury-imposed deal Aunty would be portrayed as an axe-wielding bogeyman denying lonely old people their licence. We say there is still time to argue for the present government to honour its manifesto commitment to maintain the benefit and for future governments to take it back where it belongs – the Department for Work and Pensions.”

The BBC was criticised when it first published the list of those earning more than £150,000 because no women featured in the top 10; this year two women stars Zoe Ball and Claudia Winkleman make the spot. Progress has also been made in curbing excessive payments to senior staff and “top air talent”. The NUJ has long argued that this has been a problem at the BBC.

Tony Hall, BBC director general, said:

"The BBC has turned the corner on gender pay. When we first published the figures for top talent, there was a 75:25 split between men and women. The projection for 2019/20 is now 55:45. This is significant change. The task is not complete, we are not complacent, but we are well on our way."

The list published does not include people who work for the corporation's commercial arm BBC Studios. The total number of celebrities earning more than £150,000 went up to 75 from 64 last year and the top talent bill went up by £11m to £159m, but Tony Hall said it was now a smaller proportion of total programming costs. The figures also showed that stars including Jeremy Vine, John Humphrys and Steve Wright had taken significant pay cuts.

Damian Collins, chair of the media & culture select committe said:

“It is welcome to see more women named on the high earners’ list. However, this masks the wider issue of equal pay across all levels of the BBC workforce. The rising talent bill is concerning in light of plans to remove free TV licences from all but the poorest of those over 75. We’ll be raising this with BBC executives when they appear before the committee later this month. The report also reveals the BBC is spending significantly more on its online services, including news and iPlayer, an increase of £32 million in the past year. At the same time, the report shows that numbers of viewers watching BBC live TV is in decline across all networks with one exception, BBC Parliament which shows a small increase. In the context of a year that has seen the steepest year-on-year drop in the numbers of under 35s watching broadcast TV, the BBC has much to do to ensure it is seen as relevant by younger audiences.”

BBC pay: Claudia Winkleman, Zoe Ball and Vanessa Feltz among top earners

BBC annual report 2018/19

BBC press release

Tags: , bbc, broadcasting, annual report, gender pay gap, diversity, top earners