Sarah Montague “incandescent with rage” over BBC Radio 4 pay gap

The presenter says she was “reeling” when she discovered she was the lowest paid host on the Today programme

Sarah Montague (BBC, EH)

Sarah Montague has said she was “incandescent with rage” when she found out she was paid less than all of her fellow hosts on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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The presenter, who has just left the breakfast show after 18 years to anchor Radio 4’s World at One, has written an article in The Sunday Times about discovering that she was the only Today host who did not appear on the BBC’s list of those earning £150,000 or more in July 2017.

“I felt incandescent with rage,” she wrote. “Managers, who over the years had become friends, had known these figures and thought them acceptable.”

The list revealed that her fellow presenters John Humphrys earned between £600,000 and £649,000, Nick Robinson £250,000 to £299,000, Mishal Husain £200,000 to £249,000 and Justin Webb £150,000 and £199,999.

In the article, Montague says that she received £133,000-a-year for her work at Today. She described this as “a very good wage for a job that I loved”, but also said that she was still “reeling” from the publication of the list.

She said: “When I started work more than 30 years ago it never occurred to me that I would be paid less than a man doing the same job.”

Montague added that years ago she was “even assured by a manager that I was not the lowest paid on the programme”.

The broadcaster admitted she “hadn’t clocked just how professionally damaging it would feel” to know she was earning less than her colleagues.

Speaking about her departure from the breakfast programme and negotiating better pay in her new role, she said: “I left Today and am moving to the World at One because I have a deal for the future. That was the easy bit — using the pay of previous presenters as a guide.”

Montague concluded the piece by explaining how strange it has been to be under the media spotlight. “The conversation has started; I’ve said my piece,” she wrote.

“Now to get back to where I belong: on the other side of the news barrier.”

A BBC spokesperson says:  “As we’ve made clear previously, the BBC is committed to closing our gender pay gap by 2020, and the figures show we are already performing better than most other media companies.

“We have also said that we want to introduce a clear and transparent pay framework for the future so everyone working for the BBC can have confidence that they are being paid fairly.

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“On PSCs we have already announced an independent process under the supervision of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution to consider cases.”