Erm, why is this a problem? This is normal

The BBC has admitted it has a gender pay problem after revealing that two-thirds of its highest-paid stars are men.

Of the 96 top names earning £150,000 or more, 62 are male and 34 are female.

Releasing the BBC annual report, Lord Hall, the director-general, said: “At the moment, of the talent earning over £150,000, two-thirds are men and one-third are women.

“Is that where we want to be? No.”

The backlash from female presenters has already begun, with one well-known name saying the corporation is stuffed with “male ‘intellectual titans’ with egos the size of planets” who have demanded huge salaries and got them.

This is one of the major reasons, actually two, that there is a gender pay gap. The choices made around motherhood mean that more men reach those tippy top heights. And men do negotiate more ferociously over pay.

Ehy should the BBC’s pay structure be different from that of the rest of society?

45 thoughts on “Erm, why is this a problem? This is normal”

  1. I clean toilets, I want to be paid the same as somebody who presents Newsnight *and* University Challenge!

  2. The idea that female TV presenters and actresses are shrinking violets who allow themselves to be walked over in negotiations is fairly preposterous. Also, don’t they have agents?

  3. Why not let the licence-payer decide? Oh, that would involve accountability. So much safer to be an arm of the State.

  4. Tim, is there any evidence that women settling for lower pay (which I can anecdatally confirm is true) results in higher job security?

    Because being the most expensive person in the office when the cuts come is hazardous.

  5. I don’t even know whether anyone has looked at the point. It would be good game theory, yes. But the problem with game theory is that it has been worked out by very clever people (Nash for example). And most people aren’t very clever. The correct result of the Prisoner’s Dilemma is known, but cops get to bag people all the time because criminals play it wrong.

    My instinct would be to say that people don’t play the game that far ahead. But, you know, me, instincts, I’m the guy who said Bitcoin was dead 4 years ago.

  6. Bloke in Italy,

    Quite. Newsreaders? That’s like being a human parrot.

    If you listen to local commercial radio, you realise the presenters are mostly skint. They’re basically about as good as the people on Radio 2, but they earn a fraction.

    The worst one is sports pundits, though. These people are paid an absolute fortune to welcome you to a show, tell you what’s going to be on (you know, you’ve got a programme guide) and then do some talking about the game and afterwards, some post-match analysis. You could pay £50K/annum and you’d get someone who could do the job well. Plenty of people who have presenting skills and knowledge of football who would do it. Most viewers don’t give a toss anyway. Once the sport stops, they change channels.

  7. If they want ‘fair pay’ then put themselves through a rigorous job evaluation process to be compared to other public servants.

    If they want ‘market pay’ then accept what the market offers.

    But they seem to want equal rights to the same unfairness.

  8. I thought, to punish us over Brexit and the Tories, that the only people to appear on BBC programmes recently were disabled or ethnic.

    But funnily enough, hardly any disabled ethnics…

  9. A friend of mine works at a corporate where they’ve put a 50% target on female senior staff. No discussion or debate. There is just the assumption that it should be 50%. This is a performance indicator for senior pay.

    Problem is that the corporate level below is well shy of 50%. Below that and the level is actually higher than 50%. It is clearly just a reflection of female choices. Life is much easier for the more junior staff and the pay is good. Why risk that for more daily BS to try and achieve an uncertain promotion just as you hit your early 30s and the clock is ticking. Most of these junior woman have partners earning good money. They are power couples already, who will be set up nicely when they start having kids. The place has also gone big on worklife balance which has made the women even less concerned about working long hours and getting a promotion.

    The current trend is for women to get promoted to help the 50% target just as they go on maternity leave. There are some senior women who people have never heard of because they’ve had two or three babies in a short period and when they come back get given their own little projects to run with.

    Interestingly, the only people to question all this are the career ambitious females, who don’t like the thought that their promotions may be seen as statistically motivated.

  10. Ehy should the BBC’s pay structure be different from that of the rest of society?

    “Because of the unique way the BBC is funded!”


  11. The BBC (and visual media in general) has a specific problem though. Half the audience is genetically wired to prefer staring at pretty women under the age of 45. The other half is wired to prefer staring at successful men.

    Male stars see their ability to attract an audience rising throughout their lives. Bruce Forsyth (89) only retired a couple of years ago; Brian Blessed and Morgan Freeman (both 80) get paid a ton for their voices alone.

    Female earnings potential tops out relatively early. Amazon would never have signed a multi-million dollar deal for the ex-Top Gear presenters if they were 50 year old women.

  12. There is a significant pay gap between tail men and short men. I did suggest to someone I know who has drunk deeply from the gender bias coolaid recently that the pay gap is simply based on height and not gender at all.

    A most amusing melt down ensued.

  13. “Why should the BBC’s pay structure be different from that of the rest of society?”

    They must be made to abide by their own rules. Make them squeal.

  14. It’ll be interesting to see which female ‘stars’ are getting big salaries. I’ll be prepared to bet Sandi Toksvig will be one of them, and a less funny person you’d be unfortunate to meet. When she took over from Stephen Fry on QI I gave the new show a try, but it was appalling, she obviously was just reading off an autocue 99% of the time, whereas Fry often went off script with his own (extensive) knowledge.

  15. The BBC has a problem. It had no clear idea of what it is for. We have a problem. It gets far too much of our money in order to do stuff that it should clearly not be doing, such as trying to compete with commercial operators. I can think of several simple solutions to this. It’s not difficult. The gender gap thing is the red herring.

  16. Shut it down, sell off the bits.

    One brexit is done and dusted we have to take aim at the BBC and the NHS.

    20 years ago Brexit was an impossible dream. Now hopefully it is becoming a reality.

    We need a new Nigel Farage (or possibly the old one) to get the next show on the road.

    Maybe there is hope yet to save our country.

  17. Andrew fucking Marr gets over 400,000 fucking quid?! And that’s after a £140,000 disability cut? He was on over half a million a year? What?

    Offer the twat £70,000 – or fuck off into the market place and find out what you’re worth.

    Fucking parasites.

  18. Tick the disability box and replace them with people with speech impediments and English as second languagers, in the name of proportionality and equality. That would be heaps more entertaining than Sandi Toksvig and more informative than Andrew Marr.

  19. “Why should the BBC’s pay structure be different from that of the rest of society?”

    Because otherwise the BBC would be hypocrites?

  20. A fair few people have fucked off to other broadcasters. Ant and Dec at one time were alleged to be earning £10m a year each from ITV. That’s an order of magnitude greater than the stars listed in today’s news.

  21. Yeah the BBC clearly trying to make it a gender pay gap story today rather than a WTF do they get paid story…

    Note that this doesn’t doesn’t include pay for ‘independent production colapmy’ work, so a number of them actually get paid a lot more than is being disclosed. Expect more to go down this route. How independent these productions are is a matter of opinion…

  22. Female presenters at the BBC are all so dull and interchangable, that’s one reason why they don’t earn the money that the bigger personality men do.

    A woman like Katie Hopkins, on the other hand, like her or not, has a big personality. Hire some women like her, and you’ll see a difference.

  23. “A fair few people have fucked off to other broadcasters. Ant and Dec at one time were alleged to be earning £10m a year each from ITV. That’s an order of magnitude greater than the stars listed in today’s news.”

    That’s irrelevant. ITV are commercial and about raising as much revenue as possible. BBC is about best use of income provided. Their income is pretty much fixed. They can’t spend £10m on Ant and Dec and make £11m out of that decision. £10m on Ant and Dec means cutting elsewhere.

    On top of that, if high value talent can go elsewhere, that means they are competing with others, at which point, we can just privatise that part of the BBC.

    Finally, most of the people on that list are not “Ant and Dec”. A few of them can attract a crowd, but most don’t. No-one watches Match of the Day because of Lineker and Hansen. They watch because it’s Chelsea vs Man Utd. If you fired them and put two guys from local radio into the same seats, viewing figures would be unchanged.

  24. Paying people to sit behind a desk and read is so 20th century.

    Easily fixed with robots. Reading is stupid simple for robots. Don’t even have to actually read. Make some up as wimmin, some as men. Play recorded news, sync up some facial expression and body movement.

    Use any voice from antiquity. Winnie is available, as is FDR or Humphrey Bogart. Marilyn or Sophia.

    As robots have no (discernible) sex, the dicks at the Telegraph will have to find something else to whine about.

  25. And if you want to know why these people earn so much, it’s not about competition. It’s about management being able to justify their bloated salaries.

  26. Bloke In Italy said: “Shut it down, sell off the bits.”

    Telly tax payers have paid handsomely for the BBC over the years. It should not be the State’s to sell off. De-mutualise rather than privatise. Give it to the telly tax payers as shares in whatever the BBC becomes.

  27. Don’t forget that the likes of Andrew Marr get to write a book, the BBC then makes a series based on it (or is it the other way around) usually made by the ‘talent’s’ independent production company giving vast amounts of free publicity and then the ‘talent’ gets to keep all the royalties.

  28. “It gets far too much of our money in order to do stuff that it should clearly not be doing, such as trying to compete with commercial operators.”

    Wonko the sane has it. What should the public sector be for? Answer: to provide what we want that the private sector can’t because it is not profitable. The private sector is more than capable of providing light entertainment, news-gathering, comment and analysis, drama, documentaries, sport, etc, etc. The BBC could and should be turned into a subscription service, providing high culture and niche programming.

  29. I’m mildly surprised that the Forces of Reaction haven’t organised a huge licence fee strike. If we all refused to pay there would be nothing the state could do. The courts would be completely gummed up and there’s no way the prosecutors could prove whether I watch broadcasts on the telly I own or just use it for YouTube.

  30. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Yeah the BBC clearly trying to make it a gender pay gap story today rather than a WTF do they get paid story…”

    And the obvious solution of reducing make salaries won’t be part of the options.

  31. It’s really quite laughable that the BBC tried to say they wanted it all kept secret to stop ‘poaching’ of ‘Talent’.

    As if the agents acting for ‘Talent’ don’t spend half their time comparing and contrasting what their clients do get and could get.

  32. I hope Ken Clarke’s son gets the job of David Davis. Then our top three politicians will have the same names as the Top Gear team.

  33. Full disclosure:my female stars get a lot more than the males. Chris Evans and Gary “Bleeding heart” Lineker would not make it onto a set. Unlike the extremely professional stud that is Richard M

  34. “If we all refused to pay there would be nothing the state could do. ” – they could set up more courts, swear in temporary ‘extra’ legal maigistrates ….

    “The courts would be completely gummed up” – see above.

  35. It’s very easy to legally avoid the telly tax:

    1) Don’t watch or record live TV broadcasts
    2) Don’t pay the tax
    3) Don’t bother to open the threatening letters you’ll receive weekly
    4) Don’t talk to the goons that will try to harass you into admitting you watch live TV
    5) er,
    6) That’s it

  36. @ BiW
    What worked for me, when I was a bachelor:
    Two civil but businesslike letters telling them that I did not own, and never had owned, a TV in response to the first two slightly threatening letters.
    Followed by a threat to call the police in response to the third.

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