On Wednesday, the BBC released its latest annual report touting the success of its productions, but what stole the show was how much the broadcaster pays its talent — and how much less women are paid than men.
This is the first time the British national broadcaster has disclosed the amount its staff and stars are paid, releasing the salaries of anyone who makes over 150,000 pounds ($195,000) a year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The decision to release these figures came after a deal was made with the United Kingdom government. Now, the fact most of the BBC's major male stars make considerably more than the company's female stars has become the No. 1 story not only in Europe but also across the globe.
Some of the most scandalous discoveries, The Guardian reports, revolved around former “Top Gear” presenter Chris Evans.
Evans, the current Radio Two DJ, earned $2.9 million over the course of the past year, nearly five times what the BBC's “Strictly Come Dancing” presenter and top female star Claudia Winkleman was paid during the same period.
Derek Thompson, an actor who's played Charlie Fairhead in the BBC's “Casualty” series since 1986 took home about $521,000 last year, while actress Gillian Taylforth, who's been playing Kathy Beale on the BBC's soap opera “EastEnders” since 1985 made a little over $260,000 last year.
According to the BBC's director general, Tony Hall, the organization has done a lot to boost diversity despite the scandal. As a result, Hall claims, the BBC has “set the most stretching targets in the industry for on-air diversity and we’ve made progress, but we recognize there is more to do and we are pushing further and faster than any other broadcaster.”
But the pay gap displayed now shows that the BBC still has a long way to go until employees are paid equally.
“At the moment, of the talent earning over [$195,000], two thirds are men and one third are women,” he added. But the company has a target for 2020, Hall explained.
“We want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women. And it’s already having an impact. If you look at those on the list who we have hired or promoted in the last three years, 60 percent are women and nearly a fifth come from a [minority] background,” he continued.
Hall said he believes that if the BBC is able to meet its goal, this could have a “profound impact not just on the BBC, but the whole media industry.”
On Twitter, many users were both saddened and relieved this news finally surfaced.
BBC gender pay gap is actually so bad and sadly, probably represents every other employer in the world— Rebekah (@rebekahankersx) July 19, 2017
Gender fee gap at BBC? ok, BUT why is my licence fee paying entertainers more than the PM, doctors, firemen, nurses ..@disgracefulbbc— Tamsin Lapage-Norris (@patisserielapag) July 19, 2017
You'd have thought, when the BBC was compiling the pay report, they would've headed off gender inequality by giving pay rises #BBCpay— Jack Ellacott (@jackellacott) July 19, 2017
As more news organizations report on pay inequality among BBC stars, lawyers are also alerting the broadcaster that female stars may file gender discrimination claims, which could cost the company millions.
Whether the BBC is successful in mitigating the gender pay gap problem correctly over time or not, it's important that these figures have finally been released.
As a publicly funded organization, it's important for those who support the broadcaster to know how their money is being spent so they too have a voice in what happens within the organization. Having access to this newly-disclosed information may be useful as U.K. taxpayers now can finally demand that the BBC correct how it pays its stars and staff.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning.