It is right that a public corporation should be transparent and yesterday we saw the publication of the salary brackets of the BBC’s top earners.
However, there is an element of voyeurism to all of this in the public criticism of what people are being paid. Some of the numbers are big, yes – but what did we expect? These are people who are at the top of their game and who a lot of people in this country enjoy watching or listening to. To ensure that they are able to retain talent of this calibre, the BBC has no choice but to offer a salary which is competitive in the market.
Footballers, many footballers, earn far more than DJ Chris Evans’s £2.2 million a year, and no-one blinks.
The cries that Evans is paid so many times more than the Prime Minister is also irrelevant – there are many people in the UK who are paid far more than the Prime Minister. The salary for that job has never reflected its magnitude – the financial benefits often come later.
The BBC licence fee remains outstanding value, so please, spare us the howls of ‘waste of money’. The BBC costs less now per British household than it did 20 years ago – yet the number of channels, both radio and TV – has rocketed, while online offerings and services such as iPlayer have been added.
However, the issue of gender disparity is important. The figures published yesterday found a huge gulf between the highest paid man and the highest paid woman and in some cases, also found that women and men doing apparently identical jobs were paid different amounts.
Anyone looking at the figures at the moment would feel that women are getting a raw deal.
It is a problem which is not going to be solved overnight and if there is anything to be gained from publishing these figures in respect of bridging the gap, then it should be done.
Of course, it is difficult to compare jobs in so many cases as quantifying what hours – and effort – individuals put in is difficult. Some may be the main host for one programme, but work on others ad hoc. Others may present the news three days a week, another seven. As viewers we are unlikely to be aware of the rota issues and freelance arrangements which go on behind closed doors.
Yet the fact that the gender pay gap filtered down, not just from the very top paid man and the highest paid woman, but right through the depth of yesterday’s figures, is glaring. We await with interest next year’s statistics.