Something of a can of worms here

We’ve now got tribunals deciding what is work of equal value.

Samira Ahmed has won her equal pay claim against the BBC in a landmark case that lawyers say could leave the broadcaster facing a bill running into the millions for similar claims by other female staff.

Ahmed, the presenter of viewer feedback programme Newswatch, claimed she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 an episode Jeremy Vine received for hosting the similar Points of View programme.

As Adam Smith pointed out all jobs pay the same in the end. But even excluding that idea this is still something of a can of worms. For there are undoubtedly popsies out there being paid sums to be toothsome when their male counterparts aren’t. Be interesting to see that before a tribunal, eh?

And when will we see sex discrimination cases about the sexy movies? The women always do get more than the men after all.

55 thoughts on “Something of a can of worms here”

  1. On the face of it, it’s an ‘equal pay for equal work’ issue. But actually the Beeb and other broadcasters are in the business of attracting viewers, and a high profile presenter like Vine is more likely to do that than someone we’ve never heard of.

    When the kerfuffle about star presenter remuneration came up a year or so back it turned out that the female presenter Alex Jones got much more than Matt Baker for the ‘One Show’ even though Baker did other sports commentary work as well.

  2. The £440 per episode she got paid was the same amount as the man (Ray Snoddy) who previously did the same job. If she now gets a retrospective pay increase then surely Snoddy should also get one, so that he has equal pay with Ahmed? The Equal pay act applies both ways.

  3. Good. Hopefully the costs and compensation of hundreds of BBC staff suing for sex discrimination payouts (both men and women) will finally bankrupt the BBC and we can shut it down, remove the archaic TV license from the statute books and let subscription / advertising based media without lefty bias reign free.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    It would be interesting to know what arguments were made.

    How much were they paid per viewer? Did the audience share increase when he started? Did it increase or decrease when she started?

    Did they advertise the job at the rate and was she allowed to apply?

    Noel, presumably its only backdated to when Vine started.

    Anyway, I’m with John, the sooner the BBC is made to fend for itself the better.

  5. John – and let subscription / advertising based media without lefty bias reign free.

    Al-Beebra definitely needs to be done a great mischief, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for this curing their political fuckistry though. See: Sky News, CNN, the NYT, Netflix, etc.

    So they’re remaking “Saved By The Bell”, which is an American kids show that used to also air on British telly. Naturally, because this is clownworld, one of the main characters in this programme for children is going to be a stunning-and-brave tranny.

    It’s like how the people who do marketing for supermarkets are desperate to give you the impression that most British children are mulatto, or Gillette scolding you that you’re a rapist. Private sector media is no less woke than the uniquely funded kind, because it’s the same class of soy-sipping Jolyons, urban bugmen and cosmopolitan sex perverts who produce it.

  6. @ Tractor Gent: “a high profile presenter like Vine” – but surely it was the Beeb that built up his “high profile” for him.

    Anyway, £3k per episode – sack the bugger! In fact sack the whole bloody lot.

  7. Allthegoodnamesaretaken

    “leave the broadcaster facing a bill running into the millions”
    Licence fee payer, surely?

    We really need to stop letting lazy journalists getting away with statements like these. See also ‘NHS’, ‘Councils’, ‘the government’ etc

  8. @Noel C “The Equal pay act applies both ways.”

    No it doesn’t. Women are strong and independent and capable and weak and vulnerable and victims and so must be paid more.

  9. I can see this will result in the destruction of the celebrity industry. Jeremy Vine was paid more because he was A Name, thingy was paid less because she wasn’t. If your value is solely your celebrity, it is now illegal to charge for that celebrity-ness. This case now means that Ant’N’Dec must be paid exactly the same to advertise Santandar as Mike & Bernie Winters.

  10. @VP

    No, Spud has said he’s a member of XR but hasn’t been to any events but he might do and he supports their views and understands their methods but does not necessarily support them.

    In other words, he’s aware that XR has money and would cheerfully write some crap for them if they paid him but wants to be able to deny involvement with their more extreme methods in case that might lose him the chance to write crap for someone else who disapproved of XR.

    It’s a continuation of his theme – the Jews in 30s Germany were as vulnerable to persecution as he is, his valiant defending of freedom of expression makes him as vulnerable as the victims in the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, wise people have the same opinions as he does etc etc

    All while he hides his fat arse under a desk.

  11. @jgh

    Which gives me a chance to repeat one of Eric Morecambe’s funniest lines…..

    Interviewer – what do you think you and Ernie would have been if you hadn’t been comedians?

    EM – Mike & Bernie Winters

  12. While it’s fun to see the BBC, as well as celebrity culture, get a well-deserved kicking this is a dangerous thin end of a wedge.
    If widely applied in the entertainment business then the actor playing, say, James Bond or any star of the show can’t be paid more, pro rata, than the lowliest “Third Pussy Galore Pilot ” with half a line. This would inevitably lead to any film much above the level of amateur being shot abroad or not at all, given that attracting star names is often the only way to get an independent film financed..

  13. Why is the BBC producing programmes that are similar to each other? Why are presenting jobs of equal value even a thing in this allegedly unique media?
    Time to make it accountable to the licence-fee payer.

  14. Give government authority, this is what you get.

    The solution is to get rid of the fascist state. What employers pay their employees is none of the government’s business.

    By the way, government, how are you doing with keeping invaders out (which is your actual fvcking job)?

  15. Steve,

    “Al-Beebra definitely needs to be done a great mischief, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for this curing their political fuckistry though. See: Sky News, CNN, the NYT, Netflix, etc.”

    The fastest growing independent TV channel in the UK is Talking Pictures TV, a channel showing about the least woke films around. Like Cliff Richard movies, or Ealing comedies, or the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol. And it got created because BBC and C4 stopped showing them, so they could show expensive, modern Clownworld versions instead.

  16. JS,

    “While it’s fun to see the BBC, as well as celebrity culture, get a well-deserved kicking this is a dangerous thin end of a wedge.
    If widely applied in the entertainment business then the actor playing, say, James Bond or any star of the show can’t be paid more, pro rata, than the lowliest “Third Pussy Galore Pilot ” with half a line. This would inevitably lead to any film much above the level of amateur being shot abroad or not at all, given that attracting star names is often the only way to get an independent film financed..”

    It won’t be widely applied though. Third Pussy Galore Pilot will have signed a contract for the film and not be an employee of Danjaq.

    Also, you pull this shit in the private sector, you’re in trouble. Third Pussy Galore Pilot won’t get called to ask if she’d like to come back and be a Bond girl in the next movie, or frankly, anything. People who left the employ of Cubby and went elsewhere will say “nope, do not hire that girl”.

    The public sector is all about rules. No-one will have marked Samira Ahmed’s cards for this. They should, but hey, not their money, so who cares?

  17. @BoM4

    “The fastest growing independent TV channel in the UK is Talking Pictures TV,a channel showing about the least woke films around. Like Cliff Richard movies, or Ealing comedies, or the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol.”

    I wonder if they’ll get around to “Love My Neighbour”, “On the Busses” and “It ain’t half Hot Mum”. And the Top of The Pops episodes presented by Jimmy Saville.

    Can you get it on Sky?

  18. MC at the Glasgow Empire: “Ladeez and gen’lemen, Mike & Bernie Winters!”

    Voice from stalls: “Aw Christ, there’s two of them.”

  19. Andrew C,

    “I wonder if they’ll get around to “Love My Neighbour”, “On the Busses” and “It ain’t half Hot Mum”. And the Top of The Pops episodes presented by Jimmy Saville.”

    They’re not shy of showing un-woke stuff. They got in trouble with OFCOM for not warning about a racial slur, and the owner replied that such things were “babysitting the audience”, although they now put a vague “views at the time” etc warning on screen just to get OFCOM off their back.

    Whether they’d show those you mention, I don’t know, though. Putting on Love Thy Neighbour would probably trigger a media, and even political shitstorm in a way that something less while known like The Face of Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee done up as a Chinaman) won’t because it isn’t one of the famous pariahs of old media.

  20. Putting on Love Thy Neighbour would probably trigger a media, and even political shitstorm in a way that something less while known like The Face of Fu Manchu (Christopher Lee done up as a Chinaman) won’t because it isn’t one of the famous pariahs of old media.

    Love Thy Neighbour shouldn’t be shown on broadcast TV, not because it is racist, but because it is shit.

  21. John Galt,

    “Love Thy Neighbour shouldn’t be shown on broadcast TV, not because it is racist, but because it is shit.”

    To be fair, there’s a lot of shit on TPTV. But some of it I have some nostalgia for (like At The Earth’s Core, starring Peter Cushing and Doug McClure). Still more entertaining than Doctor Who, mind.

  22. ‘because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 an episode Jeremy Vine’

    The Trumpian Solution (and I’m sure Solomon would do the same if he were still around) is to cut Vine’s pay down to £440-an-episode.

    The Wimmins will lose all of their support very quickly.

  23. As I understand it, the BBC were on a hiding to nothing because they didn’t have written records and policies to support/record the reasoning behind pay decisions. At the tribunal they had the “so-and-so the senior manager decided this and his decision was in no way sexist but he left years and years ago so there’s no way we can call him to explain it all to you” problem.

    Not helped by Entertainment and News being different silos within the BBC and being paid vastly different amounts for similarish roles. A lot gets decided by star power, individual negotiations and so on, and I think we all understand that a high-profile show is going to get a bigger name and hence higher-earning presenter than a low-profile with fewer viewers albeit a similar presentational style and skillset required – but it’s a minefield getting that to be compliant with all the legislation.

    Personally I doubt even Ahmed’s own legal team honestly believed that had the two shows been presented by two men or alternatively by two women that their pay would have been the same as each other, so surely even they could see this was not purely an issue of sex discrimination. But my guess is that they saw the BBC clearly didn’t have the paperwork in order so there’s no way they could justify their very skewed pay structure. If you’ve got a shot at an open goal for £700,000, why not have a punt at it? Can’t blame her.

  24. Bloke on M4

    “It won’t be widely applied though.”

    I’m not saying for a second that any sane company would WANT to apply the “equal pay for equal pay regardless of star power” rule (although it looks like Danjak have drunk the woke Kool-Aid with the next Bond film so may be losing their previous apparent sanity). However these things tend to become formalized either through legislation or by governing bodies.

    For example, the BAFTA committee has said that no film will qualify for a BAFTA award nomination unless it ticks specific diversity boxes. Such awards sound frivolous, and to a large extent they are, but the attention a nomination brings can make all the difference between a modest film being profitable or not. The sort of film which needs this kind of attention may not even be make if it can’t get those boxes ticked.
    The Chairman of BAFTA has written to members apologizing for the “lack of diversity” in nominations. The twat feels he needs to be seen to be apologizing to the very members who cast those votes! (Possibly not least as a protest against the tick-box rule.)

    Don’t underestimate the ability of governments to succumb to pressure groups and the ability of committees such as BAFTA’s to shoot their own industry in the foot in order to not look bad in The Guardian or on Twitter.

    PS, I fully endorse your recommendation of Talking Pictures TV.

  25. Bloke in North Dorset

    JS,

    I don’t watch films or follow what’s going on in those areas unless I can’t help it. Judging by the reactions of audiences to woke films, the responses of critics and idiocies like BAFTAs new rules it strikes me the industry is at the start of the go woke, go broke process.

    This came through my Twitter feed and struck me as fucking insane: https://twitter.com/SuitablyB0r3d/status/1215184333637550080?s=20

    Not my money and I would never watch the films so good luck to them.

  26. “individual negotiations”

    Wimmins are terrible negotiators. They want government to negotiate for them. Note that they settle for the same amount someone else is making, and not MORE!

    “It’s a minefield getting that to be compliant with all the legislation.”

    Central control of the economy. Fascism writ large. It will go terribly wrong.

  27. Gamecock – the government are pretty good at keeping invaders out. Been successful almost 950 years now for some counties though the Scots have been known to come South a time or two…

  28. JS,

    “For example, the BAFTA committee has said that no film will qualify for a BAFTA award nomination unless it ticks specific diversity boxes. Such awards sound frivolous, and to a large extent they are, but the attention a nomination brings can make all the difference between a modest film being profitable or not. The sort of film which needs this kind of attention may not even be make if it can’t get those boxes ticked.”

    That’s a fair point, and there is an effect of awards. But the value of the award is people trusting it. Did you go and see a BAFTA winning film, and was it very good? If it was, you’ll trust BAFTA’s recommendation again. If not, you’re more likely to ignore them. if BAFTA exclude films for arbitrary reasons, more people will think BAFTA are idiots.

    I’m not too worried because word-of-mouth on social media is what’s helping small films now. Really good films without much of a hook like Baby Driver and Knives Out are making money by word-of-mouth. People go and tell their friends who great they are. The flip side of that is that massive, hyped movies are often getting not much more than 1 good weekend. It’s never been more meritocratic than it is now.

  29. Terrible decision

    Well known names become so because, usually, they are good at their job and attract followers by word of mouth.

    Vine: don’t like him, but many do
    Wogan: liked him, talented
    Guy Martin: like him, brave & talented
    Graham Norton: don’t like the leprechaun, but many do

    Samira Ahmed: who? Name/Voice/face rings no bells

    imo Employment tribunals should not be ruling on pay & benefits; if pay not enough negotiate with employer or find another employer

  30. @Noel C, Gamecock, MBE +1

    @BiND

    Seemingly BBC didn’t really try to defend the differing pay, quite happy to pay women more even if useless. Makes female managed BBC more PC, SJW Woke

    @BoM4

    Talking Pictures TV – thanks

    @Andrew C,

    “Love Thy Neighbour” and “On the Busses” – on Youtube

    @John Galt

    “Love Thy Neighbour is shit” – Agree

    @Steve

    +1

    With Sky News Aus and Fox News being notable exceptions

  31. JS,

    None of this really works, BTW. Making films is about obsession, and most women don’t have that.

    There’s no excuse now. There’s a group of Nigerian teenagers making films with basic smartphones and old PCs. Their internet is shitty. Budget of about $0. Shut the fuck up about The Patriarchy and make some movies.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4dfVgFsjQc

  32. The previous to Samira Ahmed was male and paid the same as her, does he now have a case for being underpaid?

  33. @Pcar

    Tbf the BBC did try to defend the differing pay, they pointed out (for example) that Points of View had a much more variable tone, presenters needed to be able to do things like roll their eyes (this is the Beeb’s own example!) at the appropriate time, whereas Newswatch just generally required newsreader-face gravitas. The tribunal said this was nonsense and eye-rolling appropriately doesn’t require any particular skill. Fwiw I disagree with that. Trying to make emotional connection with viewers is indeed more important in Entertainment than News shows, and being able to get the tone right (and shift tone quite rapidly from piece to piece) is not easy. The tribunal found that they’re just following what’s on the autocue and so anyone capable of presenting the News by following that autocue would be equally capable of doing so on an Entertainment programme, but I’m not sure that’s right – it’s rather like saying no acting role presents any particular difficulty because any actor is capable of reading a script. Plenty of newsreaders are simply too stiff or too far up themselves to make a good presenter of a light entertainment show. Try videoing yourself eye-rolling while trying to appear “relatable” and “light-hearted” – a lot of people just end up looking like a prat. There’s a subtlety to it.

    Having said that, in reality I do not believe anyone at the BBC was really thinking “Vine can do a brilliant eye-roll, let’s pay him several times over what other presenters make”. Their real reasoning, as far as I can make out, is “it’s a bigger show so we need a bigger star to front it.” And as a result of that, knew they’d have to pay a fatter cheque – a well-known presenter like Vine has plenty of opportunities in commercial TV and radio which means the BBC has to pay well to keep him. Where I do believe there’s sex discrimination at the BBC (like Vine’s paycheque, something in part inherited from how high-end wages are set across the industry as a whole), is that the vast majority of their “bigger stars” are male – and this can be seen in how many men and women there are in their published top earners (obscured by the personal service companies and so on, of course, but this seems to be a pretty stark divide).

    My supposition is this is almost entirely peripheral to the Vine/Ahmed Entertainment/News discrepancy, but rather has a lot to do with women being used as totty and eye-candy. Middle-aged and older women are dropping off screen-time just at the moment the chaps are hitting peak earning power. I think this effect is ageist, sexist and real – and I hope the BBC (and the rest of the industry) does something about it. I accept the irony then the main beneficiaries of this policy would be a bunch of women who owe their careers to the eye-candy policy in the first place, and who displaced the generation of women before them once things started to sag and wrinkle, but who may now be spared the chop (and start receiving fatter cheques) even long after the signs of age catch up with them. Bit harsh on the generation before, who are unlikely to stage a remunerative return now, but an improvement on the status quo. The final result is never going to be truly “fair” of course, but that’s showbusiness…. which brings me to @David Moore’s excellent point!

    In terms of “equal pay for equal work”, there’s no doubt that the chap Ms Ahmed replaced was treated just as unfairly as she was. In the world of media and entertainment there can be orders-of-magnitude gulfs between the pay-packets of equally skilled and talented professionals, and some poor blighters are going to be on the wrong end of them. If the BBC can’t back up its rationale for these disparities, then it’s always going to be acutely vulnerable to claim of discrimination – particularly when there’s such clear evidence that, on average, they pay men more than women. Sadly for Ms Ahmed’s predecessor, he’s in a very weak position to claim that the unfairness affecting him was the result of discrimination against a protected characteristic of his, whereas Ms Ahmed was well-placed. Even though the pay gulf may have had nothing to do with this characteristic, the mess the BBC were in left them unable to rebut the claim of discrimination. I suspect we are a long way from the end of this saga, as many others will be well-placed too. Regardless of the root cause in their instance, and regardless of the fact that many men on the short end of the stick (and there are far more of these than there are high-end male stars, in a distribution with a long tail that tail isn’t where most of its inhabitants are!) may be looking on with envy or frustration.

  34. @BoM4

    Wow, they are impressive. Very flashy, though shame about the (lack of) plot. Not that that’s necessarily held many multi-millionaires back in Hollywood! On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, this was written and made in one day but I think it’s absolutely great: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNbg-3X9AoA

    It isn’t as technical (still looks pretty good where it matters), but it’s a lovely piece of short film-making. I know it’s hardly original, but beautifully executed and, like a good episode of Inside Number Nine, worth watching twice so you can see the first half in a different light.

    If you’ve got teenagers who play console games with each other, or dim memories of having done so with your own siblings, it really captures something of the spirit of it. A case of filming what you know best, I guess! Very talented.

  35. I have often wondered — why don’t businesses (if you can call the BBC a business) hire expensive talent the same way they buy expensive equipment: pre-qualify bidders, and then award the contract to the lowest qualified bidder.

    Want a woman to sit on a TV set and read lines someone wrote for her? Advertise the position — Affirmative Action, of course; not open just to women who might have had a shot at being a Victoria’s Secret angel. Interview, and pre-qualify the best 5. Then invite bids. Contract goes to the low bidder. And once the contract is awarded, the woman has no basis for later complaining about the rate of compensation she herself selected.

    It might be interesting to do this for chairmen, CEOs, VPs etc too. My guess is that there are a lot of very talented people who would do those jobs well for half or a third what the self-serving incumbents are currently raking in. Free market!

  36. I have often wondered — why don’t businesses (if you can call the BBC a business) hire expensive talent the same way they buy expensive equipment: pre-qualify bidders, and then award the contract to the lowest qualified bidder.

    So the woman with the richest husband gets the job…

    Not sure that’s a step forward to be honest…

  37. MBE” I think this effect is ageist, sexist and real”

    Isn’t this just a reflection of what people want to see? Tom Cruise, for example, will reliably bring a movie into profit, even if it is a stinker. No women can do that.

  38. Bloke on M4 – most women don’t have obsession?
    Who are the soaps aimed at? The men?

    Most of the women I worked with over the years could discuss their favourite soap and its most recent episodes in great detail.
    Some would incorporate the storyline into whatever they were using an excuse for.

  39. @David Moore

    In terms of why we get so many pretty young women on TV and fewer older ones, there’s definitely something in that too. But then even with the men, it’s rarely the bad looking ones making megabucks. When will the media end its discrimination against the ugly and the weird-looking? That’s also “unfair” – but I don’t know if “bad looking people” is a legally protected class in any country?

  40. Gavin

    “I have often wondered — why don’t businesses (if you can call the BBC a business) hire expensive talent the same way they buy expensive equipment: pre-qualify bidders, and then award the contract to the lowest qualified bidder.”

    if that’s how you employ people in real life, bloody hell!

    “Hey, don’t bother with a CV or any of that crap, or bother telling us what you’ve ever achieved or anything, just give us your lowest bid” ……..

  41. PF: “Hey, don’t bother with a CV or any of that crap, or bother telling us what you’ve ever achieved or anything, just give us your lowest bid” ……..

    Sounds like you have never been involved in awarding high value contracts. Note the step of “pre-qualify bidders”.

    First, a lot of work is done to identify people or companies who have the track record and the capabilities to do the job. Once the buyer has identified a group of equally suitable potential contractors, any one of which would be capable of doing the contract/job, then the final deciding factor is price.

    If you think about it, PF, it is probably not that different from the way you bought your last TV set or car.

  42. Gavin

    Of course I get the contracts / products stuff, whether identical products, or a contract to a particular specification, and with all the contract terms (to enforce) that goes with it. But you were suggesting effectively employing people on that sort of basis, when quite obviously no two people are ever offering the same product / specification. That was the essence of my comment.

    And even highly specced (and so called equivalent) contracts don’t always simply go to the lowest bidder (in my experience) and for the simple reason that the reality of “equally suitable potential contractors” doesn’t necessarily always exist. And certainly doesn’t exist when looking at individuals, however you spec (or “pre-qualify”) the role. Not in the world I live in anyway, maybe it’s different round your way?

    And for a gig in entertainment, where the product (person/cost) can also materially affect the revenue stream (or whatever commercial equivalent), that’s a whole new complication again.

  43. @MBE

    Good post, I agree. Tribunal ruling a travesty. That’s why I said “BBC didn’t really try”, their defence was very half-hearted and mostly nit-picking.

    imo Al-Beeb wanted to lose so they could up female & minority pay

    Hey Al-Beeb, why not reduce white male “stars” pay? Like rest, they are free to move to ITV etc

    @Gavin Longmuir

    Like except P3

    @Martin

    As evidenced by soap obsession

    Most women don’t have obsession with anything that might be better or profitable

    @John Galt

    Andrew “Trot” Marr – isn’t he a BBC “Comedian”?

    @PF on Gavin

    You forget, BBC don’t care about “revenue stream”, viewers, profits etc; they’re merely an excuse for high pay to match private sector.

    iirc BBC Worldwide makes a loss on selling Dr Who, Top Gear etc – how? No doubt Britbox like previous incarnations will make a loss.

  44. One of the unsung virtues of the U.S. 4th Amendment (against unwarranted searches and seizures) is that it keeps people from having to explain the normal. The cops can’t come in and demand you explain how you do things, nor the why of how you do things.

    So you Brits* have ‘tribunals’ that examine the way companies do business? It is an assault on liberty, and a horrendous affront to productivity, having to explain why Johnny makes more money than Jenny. Keep it up, and your car factories will end up in India. How much regulation the market can absorb is finite.

    *Yes, this virus is spreading to the U.S., too.

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