Is it enough that BBC male presenters are taking pay cuts to lessen the gender pay gap?

Or should the BBC's female presenters be paid more?

female BBC presenters letter
(Image credit: Rex)

Or should the BBC's female presenters be paid more?

The BBC was forced to publish its annual report last year after considerable pressure from the Government to increase transparency. But the report didn’t just reveal who were the corporation’s highest earners, it also revealed exactly how much they were paid, and unsurprisingly there was a huge gender pay gap.

The figures showed that men make up two thirds of the highest paid talent at the BBC. In fact in the list of its top ten earners, there were only three women: Strictly Come Dancing host Claudia Winkleman (earning at most £499,999), The One Show presenter Alex Jones (at most £449,999) and news anchor Fiona Bruce (at most £399,999).

And if you thought that sounded bad, brace yourselves for this one – the top four male BBC presenters collectively earn £5.5 million a year whilst the top four female BBC presenters collectively earn £1,749,996.

Since the news broke, people have been refusing to tolerate the inequality, with BBC China editor Carrie Gracie publicly quitting her role over the pay disparity between male and female editors.

The BBC’s director Lord Hall pledged to close the gap by 2020, with today seeming to bring a proposed solution - but is it enough?

It was announced today that some of the BBC’s leading male presenters have agreed to receive a pay cut in order to level out the pay gap, including Jeremy Vine, Huw Edwards and John Humphrys.

The timing is interesting for 74-year-old Humphrys, who was caught up in controversy just weeks ago, after a leaked recording showed him laughing at that very same gender gap he’s now trying to fix.

‘I think it needs to be sorted out and I support my female colleagues who have rightly said they should be paid the same when they’re doing the same job,’ announced BBC Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine. ‘It’s just a no-brainer, so it wasn’t a problem for me to accept one.’

Is it enough though?

Not according to author Sarah Mower, who took to her Instagram this morning to shout down the news.

A photo posted by on

‘So! This BBC newsreader Huw Edwards (paid £500k+) is taking a pay cut maybe because some people such as me complained to Lord Hall in writing that Laura Kuenssburg the political editor of the BBC is paid precisely half of him, due to glaring lack of penis,’ she posted to her 35k followers. ‘BUT isn’t this just another way of women NOT getting a rise to parity with males? Where are THOSE announcements? So now Edwards feels he looks a bit better and the BBC thinks it does too?’

She concluded: ‘Men agreeing pay cuts is fuck all to do with women. NO. #timesup We need an equivalent term to Greenwashing for sexist corporate coverup posturing. #HOGWASHING.’

‘We've already set out a range of action we're taking on fair pay,’ announced the BBC in a statement. ‘We’ll have more to say on the issue next week’.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.