BBC, Criticized Over Pay Gap, Cuts Salaries of Some Male Journalists

Posted January 26, 2018 4:03 p.m. EST

LONDON — The BBC said Friday that it was reducing the salaries of several of its most prominent male journalists after Carrie Gracie’s decision this month to leave her position as the British broadcaster’s China editor to protest unequal pay between men and women at the organization.

“The BBC has agreed to pay cuts with a number of leading BBC News presenters and others have agreed in principle,” the organization said Friday, although it was unclear how much they had agreed to reduce their salaries. The BBC said that an independent audit into equal pay will be published next week.

Among those receiving pay cuts are the presenters Jeremy Vine, Huw Edwards and John Humphrys. A tape of a conversation Humphrys had with a colleague in which he seemed to be making light of Gracie’s concerns over the pay gap was recently reported on in the British press. Gracie left her post in Beijing this month and returned to the BBC newsroom in London, where she said she would be “paid equally.”

Her resignation revived criticism of Britain’s publicly funded broadcaster, which last summer published the salaries of its top stars. The data revealed a startling gap in pay between its most senior male and female journalists. After that became public, the BBC’s most senior female journalists demanded the organization take action.

Vine described his decision to take a wage cut as a “no-brainer.”

“I think it needs to be sorted out and I support my female colleagues who have rightly said they should be paid the same when they’re doing the same job,” he told the BBC. “I think the BBC’s on it and this story is part of it.”

According to the BBC’s annual report, Vine earned up to 750,000 pounds, or $1.1 million, last year. Humphrys earned about 650,000 pounds and Edwards around 600,000 pounds.

The highest earner at the BBC, presenter Chris Evans, earned about 2.3 million pounds. By contrast, the highest paid woman, presenter Claudia Winkleman, earned roughly 500,000 pounds.

A report commissioned by the BBC last year found the gender pay gap at the organization was 9.3 percent, about half that of the national average. While the wage gap grew as job levels rose, the audit found “no question of any systemic gender discrimination” among rank-and-file employees.

Gracie had been one of four international editors at the BBC. For the year that ended in March 2017, Jon Sopel, the North America editor, was paid between 200,000 pounds and 249,999 pounds annually, according to the data released by the BBC. Jeremy Bowen, the Middle East editor, was paid between 150,000 pounds and 199,999 pounds. Gracie was paid less than 150,000 pounds, the threshold to have salaries made public.

She said she was offered a raise before quitting, but not one that would have paid her equally to her male counterparts.

“I was not interested in more money,” Gracie said at the time. “I was interested in equality.”