BBC Top Paid Stars: White and Male

Published: 28 July 2017

Country: UK

BBCThe recent disclosure of the top paid BBC journalists and presenters revealed that men are paid, in some cases, 4 times more than their female colleagues. A gender pay gap is ‘old news’ in the media industry, but it is also a reminder that the discrimination based on gender should be put to an end.

The media coverage of the topic in the light of the revelation within the BBC was extensive. Some front pages headlines include: “BBC’s gender pay gap revealed,” “Two-thirds of top-earning stars are men,” “Bloated Blokes Club”, while the Guardian pointed out to the lack of ethnic minorities amongst the 24 highest paid BBC stars.“Of course it’s right that sexism within the industry is explored in detail. But what about the other ‘pay gap’ revealed by the list of 96 stars earning over £150,000? Just 11 were black or ethnic minority. And of these, none were in the top 24,” wrote the Guardian’s Deputy Editor Joseph Harker.  With no intention to compare racism and sexism in the media industry, Harker pointed out to the missing black voices in the British press.

BBC_Komla_Dumor“We have no black pages in the national press, with a chance to write with a minority audience in mind. This leaves little chance to raise these issues on a regular basis, and to gain a wider understanding of how racism impacts on Britain’s minority populations – and also to nurture future talent. Yes, there has been progress – a decade ago there would probably not have been a single black or brown face on the BBC’s list. But change is still painfully slow,” says Harker in the Guardian.

When the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) met with the Head of BBC Diversity Department Tunde Ogungbesan earlier this year, we were informed about the detailed plan to increase diversity in both media content and the workforce of the public service broadcaster. According to some commentators, that change leading to the greater inclusion of different and diverse voices and faces, need to come soon.

“There’s no doubt that sexism is still a problem across society, and that the gender pay gap is a problem in far more places than just the BBC. The corporation is right to commit to closing the gap in its own organisation, and not a minute too soon,” reports the Independent.

But the gender pay gap controversy, as well as a discussion about the missing BAME voices in the UK media, show also how displaced and out-of-touch some of the leading public figures, government officials and independent experts who should be helping to archive the change and equality, can be. One example is Sir Philip Hampton who was asked by the British government to look at the ways of raising number of women in senior business roles. In his opinion, female BBC staff allowed the gender pay gap to happen. Sir Phillip’s comment does not only prove how deeply gender inequality is rooted, but also how urgent and radical the change tackling sexism and racism in the media must be.