View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

Carrie Gracie says support for her resignation as BBC China editor shows ‘depth of hunger’ for equal wages

By PA Mediapoint

Journalist Carrie Gracie has said the support for her resignation as BBC China editor in protest at the broadcaster’s “secretive and illegal pay culture” shows the “depth of hunger” for equal wages.

Clare Balding, Emily Maitlis and Sarah Montague were among a string of prominent BBC broadcasters to voice their support for Gracie, who said the corporation was facing “a crisis of trust” by not paying its male and female workers equally.

The BBC has said it is performing “considerably better” than other organisations on gender pay, although a group representing women at the corporation said it knew of up to 200 who had lodged complaints.

After tweeting “wish me luck”, Gracie was back on air presenting BBC Radio 4’s Today programme alongside John Humphrys, the BBC’s highest-paid news presenter, on Monday morning.

Humphrys explained broadcasting impartiality rules meant he could not interview Gracie, but she made a short statement after her open letter prompted an outpouring of reaction that saw #IStandWithCarrie become a top trending hashtag.

Gracie said she was “moved” by the reaction, adding: “I think the scale of feeling, not just among BBC women but also just more widely across the country and also internationally, the support that I’ve had in the last few hours over this, I think it does speak to the depth of hunger for an equal, fair and transparent pay system.

“And the other thing I’d like to say is that what is lovely for me is that people are mentioning my China work, because I would not wish to be remembered forever as the woman who complained about money.”

Content from our partners
Cannes Lions: The world's best creativity all in one place
L'Equipe signs content syndication deal with The Content Exchange
Journalism can be relentless: But overworking could be fatal

Humphrys then joked: “Too late, too late.”

Gracie went on: “I want to be remembered as the person who did fine China work, and enough people are saying that for me to feel that that will not get buried as a result.”

Humphrys replied: “Well, and they would be right too, some fine China work.”

The BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, Today presenter Sarah Montague, and Jane Garvey, of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, all described Gracie as “brave and brilliant”.

Montague added: “Not sure what is so hard to understand about #equalpay for equal work.”

Gracie appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour in the afternoon, but was interviewed by former Guardian media editor Jane Martinson instead of regular host Garvey owing to “BBC impartiality rules”.

Gracie, who is paid £135,000 a year as China editor, said she was offered a pay rise to take her salary up to £180,000. She said: “I thought it was a divide-and-rule botch solution.”

She added that she thought salaries”at the top” in the corporation were “unacceptably high for presenters, stars and managers”.

She said she did know if she would be taking legal action against the BBC, but added: “I could not go back to China and knowingly collude in what I consider to be unlawful pay discrimination.”

Male broadcasters from the BBC have also shared their thoughts on Gracie’s resignation.

Political correspondent Chris Mason described her missive as a “zinger of a letter” that was “brave, thoughtful, powerful, forensic, dignified”.

Senior journalists from rival broadcasters also backed Gracie, among them Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman, who said it was “a tragedy for the BBC to lose such a talented China Editor”.

Meanwhile, a number of MPs voiced their support, including Labour’s Harriet Harman, Jess Phillips and Barbara Keeley and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), said it was “determined to hold the BBC to account”. She praised Gracie, an NUJ member, for making a “difficult decision” to speak out against “the injustice wrought upon her by her own employer”.

The journalist, who has been with the BBC for 30 years and described leading its China coverage since 2004 as “the greatest privilege of my career”, stated her concerns in a letter addressed to the “BBC Audience”.

She accused the corporation of a “secretive and illegal pay culture” after it was revealed two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 were male.

The letter says: “The BBC belongs to you, the licence fee-payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure.”

Gracie said she was not asking for a pay rise, but wanted the BBC to “simply … abide by the law and value men and women equally”.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Fairness in pay is vital. A significant number of organisations have now published their gender pay figures showing that we are performing considerably better than many and are well below the national average.”

The spokesperson also highlighted the broadcaster’s independent judge-led pay audit for “rank and file” staff which showed “no systemic discrimination against women” and said a separate report for on-air staff would be published “in the not too distant future”.

BBC Women, a group of more than 130 broadcasters and producers, told the Times that up to 200 women at various levels of the organisation had made complaints about pay.

Picture: PA Wire/BBC file photo

Topics in this article :

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network