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The BBC 'Gender Paygap'

The media is currently full of this 'story' - ie that the top earners at the BBC are men. The narrative is that this is a clear example of the gender pay gap and shows that women are being discriminated against - being paid less money for the same work. This narrative has not, to my knowledge, been challenged or even questioned in I will have to do it myself.

Firstly let's be clear - the salaries paid at this level are ALL individual and different. They are negotiated by the star (or, usually, their agent) and BBC management.  There is no 'standard' salary scale, so talk of people being paid less for the same work is simply nonsense. The top earner is Chris Evans, followed by Gary Lineker.  I struggle to see how a comparison can be made for these since both are pretty unique roles with no obvious comparators.

In order to compare, we need two similar roles, so, for example, Fiona Bruce and Huw Edwards are both senior news reporters/presenters, but Edwards has been with the BBC longer and is the lead presenter for the flagship News at Ten whereas Bruce is currently more to be found in light entertainment programs. This could be a valid reason for the difference in their earnings (Edwards £550,000-£599,000, Bruce £350,000-£399,000).

We could consider the presenters of 'the Today program. We have Mishal Husain (£200,000-£250,000). Justin Web (£150,000-£200,000) and Nick Robinson (£259,000-£300,000).  So here the woman is in the middle of the salary spread, earning less than one male colleague and more than the other.

We could compare the presenters of The One Show - Matt Baker (£450,000-£500,000) and Alex Jones (£400,000-£450,000).  Baker earns 12.5% more than Jones, but he has been with the BBC 10 years longer than Jones, which may well be a factor.

What about comparing Radio 2 DJs?  We have two in the list - Vanessa Feltz (£350,000-£400,000)  and the legendary Ken Bruce (£200,000-£259,000). Feltz earns 40% more than Bruce, even though they both do essentially the same job.

Or how about if we compare presenters on the flagship BBC show Strictly Come Dancing? We have Tess Daily, Claudia Winkleman, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman all listed.  The two women earn roughly double the salary of the two men. It should be said that the men are judges, but the women are presenters, and maybe this is a factor in the difference, but it just shows that this sort of judgement and comparison is almost impossible to do in any objective manner and will always depend, to at least some extent, on subjective judgement rather than objective criteria.

All in all when we compare roughly similar roles there are differences in both directions, so the picture is far from clear. Such difference that is present may well be down to factors such as seniority, working hours, or other contractual factors.  I am not saying that there is no structural discrimination in the BBC system, but it is far from clear that there is, and it seems to me that the widespread moral outrage and posturing currently being displayed is, at best, premature.

People seem to be either unable or unwilling to accept the basic fact that equality of opportunity rarely leads to equality of outcome. The fact that the top earners at the BBC are men is not automatically indicative of discriminatory practice - a cool and considered examination is called for, not knee-jerk moral outrage from rent-a-mob activists who know sod-all about it.

I'm pretty sure that the BBC's main metric for deciding levels of pay will be 'bums on seats'.  Chris Evans has unarguably dragged a huge audience to radio 2 with his show - hence his huge pay-check,   I really do not think that there are any women employed by the BBC who can be directly compared (nor any men, before feminists get triggered).  
The only real surprise for me is that Clair Balding seems to earn relatively little. She has been groomed for greatness, in my opinion, moving from a sports presenter specialising in equestrian sports - show-jumping and racing - to a presenter for all occasions. I think she does an excellent job - just the right combination of approachability and authority, and I am surprised that she is not in the top-tier of the pay-scale - though I would be willing to bet she will be, before too long.  As for the rest, however,  who exactly do people think is woefully underpaid? Alex Jones? A good all round presenter but not in a class of her own. Tess Daily? Seriously?   I mean the question seriously, by the way, and I'm not being snarky or sarcastic. I genuinely do not see a female employee with the sort of audience appeal that a Lineker or a Chris Evans has. Balding, as I say, may well become such a woman, but she has a way to go yet. If you think I'm wrong and overlooking obvious talent that deserves the top dollar then please tell me who - I don't watch much TV nowadays and I'm perfectly willing to be convinced of my error.

(Note, the table can be reordered by clicking on the desired column in the heading)

Finally - I must admit that I found the spectacle of senior BBC female presenters queuing up to sign a letter demanding more money hilarious - especially when they tried to pretend that they are acting for the benefit of women in general, rather than simply lining their own pockets. Come off it ladies......
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