The recent release of high-earner compensation data by the BBC has brought to light some uncomfortable facts about gender and racial pay gaps at the UK’s national broadcaster and sparked a discussion about the problem of pay inequity throughout the country.
As a publicly-funded entity, the BBC fell under the purview of a government initiative in this year’s Royal Charter that required it to release the names of nearly 100 employees who earned more than £150,000 annually. “License fee payers have a right to know where their money goes,” Culture Secretary Karen Bradley told Newsweek, referring to the £147 fee per device (TV, tablet, etc.) that funds all of the UK’s public broadcasting. “By making the BBC more transparent it will help deliver savings that can then be invested in even more great programs.”
BBC director-general Tony Hall objected to the government directive: “The BBC operates in a competitive market,” he told Sky News. “And this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love. Ultimately, the BBC should be judged on the quality of its programmes.”
Published earlier this month, the list revealed startling discrepancies between women and minorities and their white, male colleagues. Of the 96 names on the list, only one third were female and just 11 percent were black or minority ethnic (BME, the UK’s catchall term for non-white minorities). The top seven earners, as well as 12 of the top 14, were men. Many women were found to be making much less than men in similar roles, while others in prominent roles did not even earn enough to make it onto the list: