×

BBC Boss Responds to Female Stars Over Pay: ‘We Need to Do More’

The director general of the BBC, Tony Hall, has responded to a letter from the public broadcaster’s female stars over its gender pay gap, acknowledging that the organization must do more to fix the problem and adding that the salary figures for next year will “look very different.”

Last week, the BBC was forced to publish the earnings and names of the stars whom it pays more than £150,000 ($195,600), revealing a startling pay gap between men and women.

Two thirds of the top earners were men, prompting a group of the BBC’s female stars to sign an open letter to Hall in which they wrote: “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.”

Hall responded with his own letter, saying that fixing the problem has been a “personal priority” and repeating his aim of closing the gap and having a 50-50 split of on-air presenting roles by 2020. “If we can get there earlier then we will,” Hall said in his reply.

He added: “Work is already well underway across the organization to help achieve this. There will be wider consultation meetings over the next two months so we can accelerate further change in the autumn.”

The BBC chief told female stars that he values their contribution and thinking, without directly responding to their offer to meet in person.

He pointed to the BBC’s recent record on equality. “When I came back to the BBC, I said that we needed to move from having only 14% of women on local radio breakfast shows to 50%. We achieved that in two years. I also said we needed to have a 50-50 split on all presenting and lead roles by 2020. You only have to look at our drama and entertainment programs to see what can be achieved.

“But we need to do more to close the gender pay gap.  Across the BBC, our provisional figures show that the pay gap is 10% against a national average of over 18%.  I have committed the BBC to closing the gap by 2020 and if we can get there earlier then we will.”

Hall said he is confident that next year’s figures will look very different, although like-for-like comparisons will be made difficult because several of the shows the BBC stars work on will start to be made by new production arm BBC Studios, which will not have to publish talent pay.

More than 40 female BBC stars signed the open letter to Hall, including Alex Jones, Clare Balding, and Kirsty Wark. They wrote: “This is an opportunity for those of us with strong and loud voices to use them on behalf of all, and for an organization that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing.

“We would be willing to meet you to discuss ways in which you can correct this disparity so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination.”

More TV

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

  • BBC ITV BritBox Streaming

    BritBox to Roll Out in the U.K. in Fourth Quarter

    British broadcasters the BBC and ITV have formally agreed to launch their joint streaming service, BritBox, in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2019. It will be priced at £5.99 per month, making it the same price as the cheapest Netflix subscription in the U.K. ITV will control BritBox, holding a 90% stake. The [...]

  • Kamala Harris

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Rematch in Next Democratic Debate

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will have the opportunity to square off again in the second debate among Democratic hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election CNN, which will broadcast the next round of debates on July 30 and 31, televised a draw Thursday night that decided [...]

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

  • South Park Donald Trump

    TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Sets 'South Park' Season 23 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Comedy Central announces the premiere date of “South Park” Season 23 and Netflix sets the premiere date and offers a first look at “Unbelievable.”  DATES Comedy Central announced that Season 23 of “South Park” will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. Because the episodes are written and animated so [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content