BBC male presenters could face wage cut after gender pay gap revealed

BBC's Director of Radio and Education James Purnell said cuts are one of the "levers" to combatting the wage disparity between male and female on-air stars

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A senior BBC figure has said the corporation’s highest paid male stars could face a wage cut after a published list of the Corporation’s 96 top earners revealed a significant gender pay gap.

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The BBC’s Director of Radio and Education, James Purnell, said pay cuts would aim to balance the inequality between male and female on-air talent. Speaking on yesterday evening’s edition of Newsnight, he said: “Quite a lot of men have been taking pay cuts; John Humphrys said that today on air.”

And when asked if more male stars would face a reduced wage, Purnell replied: “I’m not going to start negotiating live on air, but that’s clearly one of the levers we can pull, and we have been doing that.”

He then went on to reiterate the BBC’s promise to end the on-air pay gap by 2020. 

Purnell’s comments came after Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said BBC bosses and talent should be aware “how this looks in public”. Additionally, Labour’s Harriet Harman said the pay gap showed there was “clearly discrimination” at the corporation.

The BBC pay packet unveiling revealed almost two-thirds of its on-screen stars earning more than £150,000 a year are male – 62 men to 34 women. While the highest paid male star is Chris Evans, pulling in between £2.2 and £2.25m, the top earning woman is Claudia Winkleman with less than a quarter of that, between £450,000 and £500,000.

The figures also revealed huge differences in the pay of the BBC’s news anchors. Huw Edwards, who presents the flagship 10pm news bulletin, earned between £550,000 and £600,000 in the last financial year, but Bruce, who presents the 6pm news as well as Antiques Roadshow, was shown to garner between £350,000 and £400,000.

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Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis did not make the list of those paid over £150,000.