Four of the BBC’s best-paid male news presenters have agreed to take pay cuts in the wake of the Carrie Gracie equal pay row.
Big guns John Humphrys, Huw Edwards and Jeremy Vine will be taking home smaller pay checks after accepting a reduction in their six-figure salaries, “either formally or in principle”, according to the BBC’s Media Editor Amol Rajan.
Meanwhile BBC 5 Live breakfast co-host Nicky Campbell confirmed that he will also be taking a cut.
This follows Gracie’s resignation from her post as BBC China editor in protest at the pay gap between male and female international editors. Her open letter has sparked a conversation about how to handle the problem: whether to bring down male stars’ pay so women can earn more, or whether to raise female stars’ pay to match their male colleagues.
The row intensified when Humphrys and Sopel were caught on tape in an off-air conversation about the pay gap, with Humphrys scoffing at Gracie’s resignation and the idea of reducing Sopel’s salary: “Oh dear God she’s actually suggested you should lose money.”
The two presenters were left chastened, with the BBC apparently “deeply unimpressed” by their comments. Humphrys called his comments “silly banter between old mates”. Now they’ll both be accepting a salary cut.
None of the four are likely to be going hungry, despite the cut. In 2016-2017, Vine earned between £700,000 and £749,999, while Humphrys, who has since taken two prior cuts, earned between £600,000 and £649,999. Edwards was on £550,000 to £599,999, and Campbell fell in to the £400,000-£449,000 pay bracket.
Gracie resigned earlier this month after learning that the BBC’s two male international editors earned “at least 50% more” than their two female counterparts in similar jobs. She accused the BBC of presiding over a “secretive and illegal pay culture”.
And when the BBC revealed the pay of on-air talent earning over £150,000 in a report in July 2017, there was an outcry as two thirds of those listed were men.
With the BBC now taking action, Gracie will return to the newsroom in London, saying she expects to be “paid equally”.