Tennis commentator and multiple Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova has accused the BBC of running a “good old boys’ network” after learning that John McEnroe was paid at least 10 times more than her by the corporation.
Navratilova told BBC1’s Panorama that she is paid around £15,000 by the BBC for commentating at Wimbledon, and said she was “shocked” to learn that fellow pundit McEnroe receives between £150,000 and £199,999 per year from the broadcaster.
Navratilova said: “It was a shock because John McEnroe makes at least £150,000… I get about £15,000 for Wimbledon and unless John McEnroe’s doing a whole bunch of stuff outside of Wimbledon he’s getting at least 10 times as much money.”
McEnroe’s pay was revealed in a list of the BBC’s top-paid talent in summer 2017.
Navratilova told the programme that she’d been reassured that she was getting paid a comparable amount to men doing the same job as her, adding: “We were not told the truth, that’s for sure….
“It’s still the good old boys’ network…. The bottom line is that male voices are valued more than women’s voices.”
Panorama estimates McEnroe was on screen three times the amount Navratilova was seen on the BBC during their coverage of the 2017 tournament.
BBC Sport told Panorama that the pay gap was not down to gender and said in a statement that McEnroe’s role is “of a different scale, scope and time commitment”.
The BBC statement says: “We’re incredibly proud of the whole team who present our Wimbledon coverage.
“John and Martina perform different roles in the team, and John’s role is of a different scale, scope and time commitment. They are simply not comparable.
“Martina is one of a number of occasional contributors who is contracted to carry out a fixed volume of work and paid per appearance. The BBC believes her pay reflects what she is asked to do, her time commitment, her level of broadcast experience, profile and track record and expertise.
"John McEnroe makes at least £150,000 – I get about £15,000 for Wimbledon."
“At Wimbledon 2017 her work amounted to 3 live match commentaries, 4 highlights appearances, 1 short video and 2 other short studio appearances. Beyond this she has no contractual commitment to the BBC.
“Our contract with John is entirely different. John is contracted to be on call for the BBC across the entire 13 days of the tournament, subject to a commitment with one US broadcaster, and is on air every day. He worked on live match commentaries on 12 of the 13 days along with highlights programmes, opening links, regular studio pieces with Sue Barker, studio analysis, filmed sequences and 6-0-6 programmes for BBC Radio 5 live, as well as publicity work.
“Along with Sue Barker, John is regarded as the face of our Wimbledon coverage. He is a defining voice within the BBC’s coverage. He is widely considered to be the best expert/commentator in the sport, highly valued by our audiences and his contract means he cannot work for another UK broadcaster without our permission. His pay reflects all of this; gender isn’t a factor.”
Panorama: Britain’s Equal Pay Scandal airs on Monday 19th March at 7.30pm on BBC1