4 top male BBC journalists agree to pay cut amid gender inequality row

The new chief executive of easyJet will take a pay cut to match the salary of his predecessor, Carolyn McCall, in a bid to battle against the gender pay gap. British companies are under heightened scrutiny over their pay structures.
Radio broadcasters Jeremy Vine (above) and John Humphrys, news anchor Huw Edwards and North America editor Jon Sopel have all agreed either formally or in principle to salary cuts.
Radio broadcasters Jeremy Vine (above) and John Humphrys, news anchor Huw Edwards and North America editor Jon Sopel have all agreed either formally or in principle to salary cuts.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Four of the highest-paid male BBC journalists have agreed to pay cuts, the broadcaster said on Friday (Jan 26), following revelations that its top male news reporters and presenters were earning significantly more than women doing similar jobs.

Radio broadcasters Jeremy Vine and John Humphrys, news anchor Huw Edwards and North America editor Jon Sopel had all agreed either formally or in principle to salary cuts, the BBC said on its website.

The broadcaster was forced to disclose last year that two-thirds of the highest earners on air were men.

Funded by a licence fee levied on TV viewers, the BBC is closely scrutinised and held to exacting standards by the public and rival media. The pay disclosures, which it had resisted, highlighted a broader debate about gender inequality.

BBC director-general Tony Hall pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020, but the organisation has been criticised by its own journalists and by lawmakers for not acting fast enough.

Its China editor Carrie Gracie, who was paid significantly less than her male counterparts, resigned her role last month to fight against what she called the "secretive and illegal BBC pay culture".

North America editor Sopel, one of the four who had agreed to a salary cut, earned between £200,000 and £249,999 (S$371,000-S$464,000) in 2016/17, the disclosures showed.

Ms Gracie said she was paid £135,000 a year as China editor.

The highest paid of the four was Mr Jeremy Vine, who earned between £700,000 and £749,999 for radio and TV work.

Today radio programme presenter Humphrys earned between £600,000 and £649,999, while news anchor Edwards was paid between £550,000 and £599,999.

The BBC said the level of the cuts was not yet known.

Mr Tony Hall and Ms Carrie Gracie will be questioned by a committee of lawmakers on Wednesday about BBC pay.