Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison on gender pay row: “This is an opportunity for the BBC”

As a member of the BBC Women lobby group, the presenter discusses “a time of change” in the corporation

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ellie Harrison attends the World Premiere of "Blue Planet II" on September 27, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison has said that the row over equal pay at the BBC is an opportunity for the broadcaster to reform and be an exemplary model for other industries.

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Speaking at the Radio Times Covers Party on Tuesday night, Harrison said: “I think it would be a massive shame to waste a good crisis. This is an opportunity for the BBC… to look in detail, from its core to its periphery, from the top to the bottom, at how it pays people and how it can do that in a more equal way.”

In recent weeks, the BBC has been under intense scrutiny regarding gender pay inequality, an issue which first made the headlines last summer when the salaries of the BBC’s top stars were published, exposing major discrepancies in what the Corporation was paying its male and female staff.

A group of the BBC’s leading male presenters – including John Humphrys and Huw Edwards – have agreed to take pay cuts, and a report by PwC which found “no evidence of systemic gender discrimination” at the Corporation has sparked outrage.

Harrison is one of those who has rebuked the findings. “The report that the BBC commissioned from PwC, we believe, wasn’t necessarily entirely independent and that’s an incredibly important part of the process.”

The presenter is part of the BBC Women lobby group who have called for an apology and back pay.

“I hope that it becomes an exemplary time in the organisation’s history and that we create a model that could work for other industries,” she added.

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“It’s a time of change.”