NUJ responds to damning report on BBC’s equal pay record
23 January 2019
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “This hard-hitting report on the BBC’s response to the select committee must be taken seriously by the corporation. It has been told that it must comply with the law on equal pay and the committee took the BBC to task for failing to admit a pay discrimination problem, instead confining its remarks to references to the ‘gender pay gap’ and ‘fair pay’ as opposed to unequal pay. There are still many outstanding equal pay claims that we are dealing with.
“The NUJ also shares the committee’s position that greater transparency in pay bands must be achieved, and critically that ‘a gender breakdown of the numbers of men and women in each quartile would empower staff on equal pay’. We also agree that the BBC must publish the salaries of staff working for BBC Studios. Pay transparency is essential for the staff working there and also for the licence-fee payer.”
Damian Collins, chair of the cross-party committee said:
“We’re aware of ongoing concerns among female staff at the BBC and will continue to monitor the situation on pay discrimination. We stand by the conclusion of our inquiry; that our evidence suggests that some women at the BBC who work in comparable jobs to men are earning far less.
“BBC Studios, as a commercial arm of the BBC, is not currently covered by transparency rules. This means that staff employed by BBC Studios do not appear on the high earners list, effectively creating a loophole that means the BBC need not disclose the salaries of its top-earning talent.
“We do not accept the argument that, in particular, long-running BBC programmes, like Question Time or Songs of Praise, which are made by independent production companies, should not have to disclose the salaries of highly paid on-screen presenters. Ultimately it is all licence-fee payers’ money, whether salaries are paid directly from the BBC, by BBC Studios or any other production company.
“We do not agree that publishing data from independent production companies would put the BBC at a competitive disadvantage, as there is no shortage of companies that are willing to work with the corporation. We recommend that the BBC re-think this decision ahead of its forthcoming annual report.”
An Ofcom report on the BBC also called for more transparency at the corporation on the way decisions were made on major projects such as the iPlayer and particularly in the area of competition.
The regulator’s first annual report on the BBC, since being given new duties “to hold the BBC to account on behalf of audiences by providing robust, fair and independent regulation”, said:
“It provides a significant volume of news and current affairs, a wide range of learning and educational content, as well as high-quality distinctive and creative content for all audiences across its mainstream and specialist services. Audience satisfaction continues to be relatively high: three-quarters of people say they are satisfied with BBC radio and with BBC online, and two-thirds with BBC TV.”
The report criticised the BBC for failing to represent the UK population, saying that it should feature more older women and should represent disabled people in ways that do not only focus on their disabilities. It was told to do more to attract young people and be more innovative and take more risks with original programming.