Pay gap controversy at BBC an example of a 'bigger problem'


The BBC's journalism can not be trusted unless it is truthful about its gender pay gap, the corporation's former China editor Carrie Gracie has said.

Gracie told MPs that she had been fooled by her head of news, Frans Unsworth, as she had failed to inform her about her male counterparts' salary.

Meanwhile, a group of 170 women who work for the BBC demanded an apology, as well as back pay and pension adjustments in compensation.

The report was also lambasted by Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists [NUJ]: "The conclusion of our legal analysis of the latest PwC report is that it is a PR exercise and not a genuine inquiry into fairness and equality of pay for on-air talent".

However, the review also found that the BBC's approach to setting pay in general "has been far from perfect".

Speaking to British politicians as part of the House of Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Gracie said: "It is an insult to add to the original injury".

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She said she had received the results of her grievance complaint last week and that the BBC had said it had "inadvertently" underpaid her since 2014 and promised to backdate her earnings. The BBC has the chance to help turn the tide on the gender pay gap, and must embrace the opportunity.

Gracie said: "The BBC was very concerned in the aftermath to put more senior women and older women on-air".

He said he did not agree that the China editor should be paid as much as the North America editor because of the difference in the scope and scale of the roles. In response to Tuesday's report, the BBC said there would be "substantial" pay reductions for some men and pay increases for some men and women. The BBC has a special role representing Britain. Instead, the OAR only gives the median and mean percentage gender pay gap, which prevents female NUJ members from using the OAR to make meaningful comparisons with their own remuneration.

She later discovered that the BBC's North America editor, Jon Sopel, was making between 200 000 (about R3.3 million) and 249 999 pounds (about R4.2 million) and the Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen between 150 000 and 199 999 pounds.

Gracie said the BBC told her she was paid less than her peers because she was "in development" during the first years of her posting in China. "This will not resolve my problem".

She told MPs: "I never said Carrie was part-time, I never would have done. My problem will be resolved by an acknowledgment that my work was of equal value to the men whom I served alongside".