Female stars call on BBC to 'act now' to close gender pay gap

Staff and visitors walk outside the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in central London on July 19, 2017.
Staff and visitors walk outside the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in central London on July 19, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Some of the most high-profile female presenters at the BBC called on the head of Britain's public broadcaster on Sunday (July 23) to "act now" to address a gender pay gap that sees it pay its top male star five times more than its best-paid female presenter.

Reaching 95 per cent of British adults every week and a global audience of 372 million, the BBC is a prized national asset but faces intense scrutiny over spending as its funding comes from a fee levied on TV viewers.

Its list of on-air employees earning at least £150,000 (S$265,547) numbered 96 people, two-thirds of them men, most earning more than women doing similar work.

"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," more than 40 women wrote to the BBC's director-general Tony Hall.

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The BBC had not wanted to disclose information which it said would make it easier for rival broadcasters to poach talent, but bowed last week to the government's demand to publish the salaries of its highest earners.