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19 July 2017

Will revelations about stars’ £150k salaries weaken the BBC?

The BBC has always been pioneering, but now it's made the Mail and the Telegraph care about the gender pay gap.

By Stephen Bush

Will anger at high salaries kill off the BBC? The Corporation will publish details of its employees earning more than £150k today – or, as the right-wing press will put it, “earning more than the Prime Minister”. (There are nearly 100 in that bracket.)

“Pay Panic At The BBC” salivates the Mail‘s splash. Adding to the Beeb’s discomfort, two-thirds of those earning above £150,000 are men. “BBC faces sexist pay storm” is the i‘s splash. “BBC’s gender pay gap revealed” is the Telegraph‘s.

The BBC has always been pioneering, but making the Mail and the Telegraph care about the gender pay gap is right up there with anything the Radiophonic Workshop cooked up in its heyday.

That’s not to defend the BBC’s gender pay gap, but the essential truth is that the reason why the Corporation has been forced to reveal it isn’t because the government is concerned about the glass ceiling at New Broadcasting House. Nor has Paul Dacre suddenly started quoting The Second Sex to his deputies. It’s all because the hope is that the resulting public anger at “fatcat salaries” will weaken the BBC.

Will it? The short answer is: I don’t know, ask a pollster. But my anecdotal impression of what happens when people recognise me off the telly, is that most people think that everyone they see on TV is coining it anyway. (Regrettably untrue. Subscribe to the NS now, etc etc). 

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I’m not sure that “They’re on loads of money!” is the killer app that the BBC’s critics believe it to be. 

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