Male BBC presenters agree to take pay cuts

Corporation left reeling after morning of chaos in which it reported and then retracted the list of names

London: The BBC’s attempts to manage the gender pay gap descended into chaos on Friday when it published and then retracted the names of male presenters who are to have their pay cut.
The announcement that Huw Edwards, John Humphrys, Jeremy Vine and Jon Sopel had agreed “either formally or in principle” to reduce their salaries was published on the BBC’s website and swiftly became its most-read story. The claim was repeated on breakfast radio by Amol Rajan, the BBC’s media editor.
But the move backfired because management had failed to inform the presenters that their names were to be made public. While Humphrys had gone on the record discussing his pay reduction, the others had not.
Sopel, the North America editor, had not even been approached to discuss his pay until this Wednesday. “He has only had one conversation about it, ‘in principle’, and suddenly finds his name on this list,” a friend said.
Sopel’s £200,000-£249,999 (Dh1 million-Dh1.29 million) salary hit the headlines after Carrie Gracie resigned as China editor, saying she did not deserve to be paid less than him.
Staff across the BBC were angry that the four had been singled out. “Nobody had been told this was going to be put out. It wasn’t well-handled. And now you have some people asking why they’re not on the list and are trying to pile in. It’s like an edition of W1A with a civil war thrown in,” a senior BBC figure said.
The BBC’s plans were unravelling by 9am when, at an editorial meeting chaired by Fran Unsworth, the head of news, questions were asked about the source of the story.
Reporters from the BBC website then had to call the BBC press office to ask whether the BBC could confirm the names. It could not. By 9.45am, the names had disappeared from the website, along with the presenters’ photos. They were replaced by a reference to Nicky Campbell, co-presenter of Radio 5 Live’s breakfast show, who confirmed on air that he has taken a cut.
The story then changed several times. Finally, at 1pm, the BBC confirmed the news, including the names of Campbell and Nick Robinson, Humphrys’ Today programme colleague.
A statement read: “We are very grateful to Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Vine, who have agreed that their pay will now be reduced. These are great journalists and presenters, who have a real connection with the audience. We are proud to have them working at the BBC.”
Campbell agreed to a cut in order to bring his pay close to that of Rachel Burden, his Radio 5 Live breakfast co-presenter. Vine, one of the BBC’s highest-paid stars, said accepting a cut was “a no-brainer” and Humphrys has agreed to cut his salary for the Today programme by £150,000-£200,000.


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