Four of the BBC’s leading male news presenters have agreed to take a pay cut after revelations over equal pay.
Jeremy Vine, John Humphrys, Huw Edwards and Jon Sopel have all agreed, either formally or in principle, to reduce their salaries.
It follows Carrie Gracie’s resignation from her post as BBC China editor in protest at unequal pay between male and female international editors.
An independent audit into equal pay at the BBC will be published next week.
The BBC revealed the pay of on-air talent earning over £150,000 in July 2017, with two-thirds of stars earning more than that being men.
Chris Evans topped the list, earning between £2.2m and £2.25m in 2016/2017.
The highest paid female, Claudia Winkleman, earned significantly less – between £450,000 and £500,000.
Sopel and his Middle East counterpart, Jeremy Bowen, both made the list, but Gracie and BBC Europe editor Katya Adler did not.
Gracie is now returning to the BBC newsroom in London, saying she expects to be “paid equally”.
All four of the presenters who have agreed to the cut were listed with the following salaries:
- Jeremy Vine – the Radio 2 presenter earned between £700,000 and £749,999 in 2016/17
- John Humphrys – the Today programme presenter earned between £600,000 and £649,999 in 2016/17
- Huw Edwards – the BBC News presenter earned between £550,000 and £599,999 in 2016/17
- Jon Sopel – the BBC’s North America editor earned between £200,000 and £249,999 in 2016/17
It is not yet known how much the reductions in salary will be.
The BBC’s media editor, Amol Rajan, said whilst competition in the entertainment industry has intensified, the opposite has happened in news.
“Many of those now taking pay cuts secured generous deals years ago,” he said.
“That world has disappeared – and these presenters now accept that a chunk of their salaries will have to disappear with it.”
Humphrys and Sopel caused controversy earlier this month when an off-air conversation about the pay gap was recorded and published.
During the exchange before an episode of Today, the pair reportedly joked about “handing over” pay to keep Gracie in the role.
Humphrys has since defended the comments as part of a “jokey” exchange with an “old friend”.
The BBC was “deeply unimpressed”, a corporation source said.
‘Pay and fairness’
Gracie is due to appear before a select committee of MPs next week, shortly before the director general of the BBC, Tony Hall, his deputy, Anne Bulford, and the director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth.
They were called to discuss what action the corporation is taking to address the gender pay gap.
There have been three investigations into gender pay at the BBC:
- A report was published in October, in line with a requirement on all large organisations. It found the gender pay gap at the BBC was 9.3%, against a national average of 18.1%
- A judge-led audit of equal pay among rank-and-file staff published at the same time found there was “no question of any systemic gender discrimination”
- A review into the BBC’s approach to the pay of on-air presenters, editors and correspondents is due to be published next week
Lord Hall pledged to close the gap by 2020, saying the corporation should be “an exemplar of what can be achieved when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation”.