Female stars call on BBC ‘to sort gender pay gap now’

On Wednesday the BBC revealed two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 are male, with Chris Evans the top-paid on between £2.2m and £2.25m.

Claudia Winkleman was the highest-paid female celebrity, earning between £450,000 and £500,000 last year, its annual report for 2016/2017 says.

In light of this some of the BBC’s most high-profile female personalities have called on the corporation to “act now” to deal with the gender pay gap.

Presenters Clare Balding, Victoria Derbyshire and Emily Maitlis are among those who have signed an open letter to director general Tony Hall.

They urge him to “correct” the disparity over gender pay, which they say has been known “for years”.

Lord Hall said “work is already well under way” to resolve the pay gap.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said the BBC’s gender pay gap was “hard to justify”, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said discrepancies were “astronomical”.

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More than 40 signatories include BBC Sport’s Sue Barker, BBC Radio 4 Today programme journalists Mishal Husain and Sarah Montague, BBC News and Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce and The One Show’s Alex Jones.

The report shows “what many of us have suspected for many years… that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work,” the letter says.

Pay disparities continue “beyond the list” of those earning more than £150,000, they add, including in areas of production, engineering, and regional and local media.

The letter continues: “Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate.

“However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values.

“You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”

The women say they are “prepared to meet” Lord Hall to ensure “future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination”.

Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey – who organised the letter and is not on the list of top earners – told BBC Radio 4’s BH programme the BBC should “set a standard” when it comes to fair pay.

“We are not after pay parity,” she said, “it is fairness that we are in pursuit of here, not enormous pay rises.”

It will be interesting to see if the BBC will take an course of action on this and how or if they will bridge certain celebrities pay.