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January 26, 2018updated 29 Jan 2018 10:24am

Six top-earning BBC journalists agree to salary cuts in move towards equal pay

By Freddy Mayhew

Six top-earning BBC journalists have agreed to have their pay cut as the row over equal pay at the organisation continues.

Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine, News at Ten anchor Huw Edwards, Today presenters John Humphrys and Nick Robinson, North America editor Jon Sopel and Radio Five Live presenter Nicky Campbell have all agreed to a salary reduction.

In a statement issued today, the BBC said it was “very grateful” to the group of men, adding: “These are great journalists and presenters, who have a real connection with the audience.

“We are proud to have them working at the BBC. The final details of some of these changes are still being discussed, and there are further conversations that the BBC will have with others in due course.”

The extent of the six presenters’ pay cuts is not yet known.

The move by the journalists follows Carrie Gracie’s resignation as BBC China editor earlier this month after discovering that she was paid less than other international editors who were male.

The BBC was forced to reveal the licence-fee-funded salaries for its on-air talent earning more than £150,000 (equal to the Prime Minister’s salary) in July last year following a government decree.

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Vine was revealed to be the highest-paid of the 42 journalists listed, earning up to £749,999 a year. Humprhys earned up to £650,000; Edwards was paid up to £599,999 and Sopel up to £249,999.

Campbell was listed as earning up to £449,999. Gracie, who has been China editor since 2013, did not make the list.

In a open letter announcing her resignation as China editor, she accused the organisation of having a “secretive and illegal pay culture”.

She also revealed that she had been paid £135,000 for her role and had turned down a pay rise of £45,000 because she said she thought it was a “divide-and-rule botch solution”.

What followed was effectively a gag order as BBC presenters who had taken a stance on the issue of equal pay were taken off-air under the corporation’s strict impartiality guidelines.

Earlier this month, controversial off-air comments made by Humphrys about the equal pay row were heard in a leaked recording.

The broadcasting veteran was heard to say he could hand over more than the entire salary of his colleague Sopel and still be “left with more than anybody else”.

Humphrys told ITV News he backed equal pay, stating: “We are in habit, Jon and I, of winding each other up and the purpose of this jokey – I emphasise jokey – exchange was a bit of mutual mickey-taking, and that is all it was.”

In October last year, an independent report into gender pay imbalance at the BBC concluded there was “no systemic discrimination against women” in its pay arrangements.

However, a review of rank and file staff salaries revealed a 9 per cent gender pay gap. BBC director general Tony Hall has pledged to close the gap by 2020.

The BBC News website made several amendments to its story reporting the salary reductions today, at one point removing all names except Campbell’s before later adding them back in.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Like with any story, the BBC news website is updated as the story moves on such as individuals making public statements about their pay.”

The Guardian reported yesterday that culture minister Tracey Crouch refused to be interviewed on BBC radio 4’s today programme after Humphrys made light of a female colleagues fight for equal pay.

Picture: BBC/PA/PA Wire

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