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U.K. Film and TV Firms Show Improvement in Gender Pay Gap but Little Equality

U.K.-based film and TV firms still have a way to go to close the gender pay gaps in their ranks, the latest statistics show. Most companies have reported some progress in shrinking the disparity, but a handful saw the numbers heading in the wrong direction, with Viacom’s Channel 5 and Turner Broadcasting among the backsliders.

The BBC, Cineworld, ITV Studios, Sky, and Vue managed to keep the difference in average hourly pay for men and women down to single-digit percentages in 2018. At the British Film Institute, the gap was just 0.4% in favor of male employees, while TV production and distribution giant Endemol Shine and news network CNN, which reports separately from Turner, actually recorded higher pay for their female staff.

But all these companies were outliers. Overall, the numbers show that film and TV firms largely remain a long way from achieving earnings equality.

Under British law, companies with more than 250 employees in the U.K. must report gender pay information annually. The reports for 2018 are the second since the requirement was introduced.

Among broadcasters, the BBC’s 8.4% difference in male-to-female pay was down from the 10.7% posted last year. Tony Hall, the pubcaster’s director general, has set a target of closing the gap by 2020. “We want to go further and faster to build on what’s been achieved so far,” he said.

ITV, one of only six companies in the FTSE 100 with a female CEO (Carolyn McCall) also narrowed the gap slightly, from 16.4% to 14.9%. Within the company, production and distribution unit ITV Studios recorded a much smaller disparity than the broadcasting side of the business.

BBC Studios, the BBC’s commercial arm, registered a gap of 19.6%, and acknowledged the need to be proactive in increasing the number of women in senior roles. “While it is part of a wider societal trend – which will take time [to reverse] – we must play our part in changing it,” the company said in its report.

Channel 4 posted its figures months ago, revealing that a yawning 28.6% gap in 2017 had improved somewhat to 22.6%. That leaves plenty of work to do to hit CEO Alex Mahon’s goal of an even split of top earners between men and women by 2023.

Viacom’s Channel 5 was one of the few to show an emphatic reverse in 2018, with a gap that widened to 14.6% in favor of men from 2.85% in favor of women in 2017. James Currell, president of VIMN U.K., conceded that “clearly this year’s numbers are tracking in the wrong direction.” He said the broadcaster has “implemented a number of new measures which we are confident will help us achieve gender parity over time.”

In the pay-TV sector, Sky and Virgin both recorded very small increases in their pay gaps, which came in at 5.3% and 10%, respectively.

Disney has added staff to its ranks – and is losing some – as it reorganizes following its acquisition of Fox assets. In the U.S., it is facing a class-action lawsuit alleging systematic underpaying of its female employees. In the U.K., its latest gender pay gap was 20.9%, a slight improvement on the previous year. Warner Bros. Entertainment saw its gap fall from a whopping 30.9% to 25.3%. More encouragingly, both Disney and Warner Bros. were among the film and TV firms with the highest proportion of women among their top earners.

There was disparity across the British operations of other studios. Sony, which posts film and TV numbers under the Columbia Pictures moniker, posted a small increase in the pay gap to 25.6%. NBCUniversal was the best performer of the Hollywood bunch, with a gap of 7.9%.

Discovery has just set up an international pay-TV base in Amsterdam but retains a hefty presence in the U.K. The gender pay gap in its U.K. ranks shrank slightly to 12.7%. Another major channel operator, Turner Broadcasting, went from an already high 30.2% to an embarrassing 35.6%. It attributed the rise to a “very small number of one-off payments” that had skewed the average, and said there was “encouraging movement” by other measures. It also flagged an even 2018 gender split in staff recruited for, or promoted to, senior roles across the EMEA region.

Fremantle and Endemol Shine are among the few producer-distributor groups sizable enough to be required to report. The former, now under the stewardship of Jennifer Mullin, more than halved the gap in earnings between the sexes to 15%. Endemol Shine, under the leadership of Sophie Turner Laing, went from almost even gender pay to a 2.5% gap in favor of its female staffers.

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