There's no way I can justify my salary, but I'm learning to live with it
July 20, 2017 4:50 AM   Subscribe

The BBC has disclosed the salaries of stars earning £150,000 or more. This has caused discussion about salary levels, transparency and the gender pay gap.

The BBC was forced to publish this information due to a recent change in their Royal Charter.

The high salaries paid from the licence fee were widely covered. Many discussed the gender gap.

Salary transparency varies around the world, with Norway being particularly open. It's considered impolite to discuss salaries in many cultures but would it be good for us? Opinions are divided.

The stars themselves reacted on their shows or on Twitter.
posted by Stark (32 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The most damning part of it all is the gender gap between older male and female staff which is I suppose a legacy issue. They have stated that they will be on male\female parity in both numbers and pay by 2020 I believe.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:01 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]




Oh man, how great of a W1A episode would this be?
posted by officer_fred at 5:08 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's considered impolite to discuss salaries in many cultures

straight up capitalist propaganda
posted by indubitable at 5:11 AM on July 20, 2017 [36 favorites]


Salary transparency is a great thing, this will only lead to good things for public service broadcasting. It's astonishingly hypocritical of any media organisation that is criticising the Beeb without revealing their own salary breakdowns however.
posted by brilliantmistake at 5:17 AM on July 20, 2017 [16 favorites]


This is the first time I have encountered the acronym BAME.
posted by Miko at 5:33 AM on July 20, 2017


That seems like an extraordinary amount of money for radio presenters.
posted by empath at 5:42 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'd be interested to see what npr hosts with similar audiences are making.
posted by empath at 5:43 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]




I'm not even sure what you would pay a Radio 2 DJ 2.2 million pounds for. Just how much bloody money does Radio 2 get to be paying their presenters these ridiculous amounts of money?
posted by Talez at 5:50 AM on July 20, 2017


One of the female presenters of the Today programme (not on the high salary list, as opposed to some of her male colleagues) asked pointedly while interviewing a BBC Lord (not Time) if the equalisation by 2020 would be an equalisation up or down.

He declined to comment.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 6:01 AM on July 20, 2017 [11 favorites]


I really wish everywhere would just move to the Norwegian model. It just makes so much sense.

This is the first time I have encountered the acronym BAME.

It's pretty common in the UK, to the point where I'd say I see it at least as often as PoC.
posted by Dysk at 6:02 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


(BAME stands for "Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic", in case anyone besides me was wondering.)
posted by Autumnheart at 6:10 AM on July 20, 2017 [16 favorites]


Not trying to justify the salaries, because they are despicable, but BBC radio, and Radio 2 in particular, have an enormous market share. It doesn't suprise me at all that many of their presenters make the list. There's no comparable commercial stations at all.
posted by threetwentytwo at 6:32 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm not even sure what you would pay a Radio 2 DJ 2.2 million pounds for. Just how much bloody money does Radio 2 get to be paying their presenters these ridiculous amounts of money?

Having been forced to listen to Radio 1 and 2 all summer on an internship (not their fault exactly, warehouses in rural Wales only get the strongest stations it turns out), I too question whether execrable banter is worth 2.2 million. But yeah -- BBC Radio is effectively a tastemaker. I had a friend who was a professional musician for awhile, and getting play on BBC and getting the support of the DJ's was a huge deal, far far more than it would be in the US. (I'm not even sure there's an equivalent...getting a Clear Channel contract? Winning the Tiny Desk concert? It's hard to explain, but it doesn't quite culturally translate.)
posted by kalimac at 6:45 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


The point is, you cannot get this sort of talent just anywhere. You cannot just advertise and get people who are conceited and irritating on this scale. The BBC finds people like John Humphries, whose ego is already way out of proportion to his performance, and steadily nurtures it over the years with ever more ridiculous amounts of money and flattery. With Gary Lineker it's said they have had young women stand in his dressing room and say over and over again "Ooh, Gary, footballers are so dim, but you're so intelligent!". Chris Evans: I mean just one glance at his idiotic face produces more irritation than a whole team of very irritating people could manage normally. There's obviously exceptional natural talent there, but it didn't get to the galactic levels it has attained without being carefully and consistently inflated by millions and millions of pounds pushed at him for consistently shit performance; without him being repeatedly given plum jobs and allowed to go on being really, really bad at all of them.

Yes, the commercial producers have people who are a bit big-headed; but if you really want the BBC to go on producing the most obnoxious people in the media anywhere, these are the salaries that have to be paid.
posted by Segundus at 8:11 AM on July 20, 2017 [8 favorites]


NPR's top-paid on-air employees made around $400,000 in 2014. (NPR 990)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:23 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


threetwentytwo: Not trying to justify the salaries, because they are despicable, but BBC radio, and Radio 2 in particular, have an enormous market share. It doesn't suprise me at all that many of their presenters make the list. There's no comparable commercial stations at all.

Hmm. Usually when there's no employer competition, wages go down and profits go up. But I guess the BBC is in a unique situation in multiple ways.

I was expecting to see more ridiculous salaries for sports announcers. Here in Canada, Don Cherry and Ron McLean - guys who talk for about a minute between periods - were earning half a million each from the CBC a couple of years ago. No idea what they're making now that Hockey Night in Canada has moved to a private broadcaster.
posted by clawsoon at 8:36 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


The situation will become more opaque in the 2017/18 accounts because the corporation’s in-house production unit, BBC Studios, became an independent commercial entity at the beginning of this tax year.
Colour me shocked...
posted by clawsoon at 8:40 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I do find it odd that £150k has become the threshold due to the Prime Ministers salary.
Wonder how many of the press who are critising the BBC over this would support a UK wage cap at £150k?
posted by 92_elements at 9:49 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I would have expected Peter Capaldi to make more money. He's the Doctor, for goodness sake...
posted by slateyness at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2017


Reminds me of the time David Mitchell was talking about "thanks to the way the media selects people for promenance, HERE I AM!".
posted by Talez at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


To put things into perspective: Minimum wage for over 25s in the UK is currently £7.50/hour - at 40 hours/week, 50 weeks/year, that's £15,000. (Minimum wage for under-18s is only £4.05, and for apprentices, it's £3.50).

Now, minimum wage is too low (as usual) - but I really don't see why people ever think that they need to make 10 times - or 100 times! - more than someone else. I just don't get it - how can anyone can justify it, let alone people who work for a public institution. (It's not that I think that people at public institutions should be paid less, I just expect them to be less greedy than business owners, because they have chosen to work for a non-profit).
posted by jb at 4:39 PM on July 20, 2017


Monty Don didn't even make the list...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 5:55 PM on July 20, 2017


So I get as an American my baseline idea of what is "normal" inequality is pretty skewed. Also that BBC being public employees changes some calculations.

But my takeaway from this is definitely not that these are outrageously high. With a handful of exceptions the salaries for top talent at one of the premier English language broadcasters are making about as much as a successful US doctor, top academic, or mid-level Google manager. I guarantee you a good many MeFites* are making way more than many on this list each year.

Compared to their on-camera peers, Peter Capaldi has possibly earned less in his whole run as geek icon Dr. Who than the guys who play Dr. Who fans on Big Bang Theory** make in a single episode. Megan Kelly made many times more at Fox than anyone on that list and got a big raise to go elsewhere.

I'm not making an argument about who "deserves" anything, but among the it seems a weirdly mid-level set of wealthy people's salary ranges to get outraged over.

NPR's top-paid on-air employees made around $400,000 in 2014. (NPR 990)

Given public broadcasting's baroque funding I wonder what that means for people who make shows that are distributed by NPR--are they employees? If so do they get non-salary income as well that isn't reported?


*Based on our demographics and topics where we show expertise. $200k in salary and stock as a silicon valley coder is above average but hardly an extreme outlier.

**Not sure if they are actually Dr. Who fans.

posted by mark k at 8:47 PM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Compared to their on-camera peers, Peter Capaldi has possibly earned less in his whole run as geek icon Dr. Who than the guys who play Dr. Who fans on Big Bang Theory** make in a single episode

That headline figure is likely misleading.
posted by Dysk at 11:51 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Another way to help reduce the gender and BAME gap would perhaps be to have established pay bands. Similar to the NHS and (until recently?) teaching.
W years + X qualifications + Y responsibilities = £Z.
With the pounds index linked to some measure of inflation. Bit yet again that doesn't seem to be work c.f. 1% pay cap, and the general hatred from the press towards unions / pay bargaining.
posted by 92_elements at 1:25 AM on July 21, 2017


W years + X qualifications + Y responsibilities = £Z

Isn't that effectively how the remuneration works at the moment? John Humphries and Derek Thompson have been doing their jobs for a very long time; Chris Evans, whatever one might think of him, is enormously qualified to do his job; Graham Norton (as the lynchpin of one of BBC1's flagship light entertainment programmes and the current voice of Eurovision) has a tremendous amount of responsibility. Of course the nation's most recognisable celebrities are paid a huge amount of money. Isn't that the point? What did people expect?

Just goes to show that if you push the right buttons, anyone can be counted on to do the Daily Mail's work for it.
posted by Grangousier at 5:29 AM on July 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


If it worked like that then I'm not sure what the agents are there for?
posted by 92_elements at 10:26 AM on July 21, 2017


Assuming they are in fact involved in the pay negotiation rather than just dealing with the paperwork / press elements.
posted by 92_elements at 10:27 AM on July 21, 2017


That headline figure is likely misleading.

Yes, but the per episode figures for American stars wouldn't include residuals either.


If it worked like that then I'm not sure what the agents are there for?


Trivially for getting the roles in the first place but more substantively for convincing the BBC how qualified you are.

I actually read the qualifications part of your as intended to be obkective, like a CV, in which case it's definitely not in use now. If the term included level of talent I guess you could make the case it's used but obviously then still a ton of room for inequities.

Some of the OP links talk about not tying pay to performance which is basically what an objective formula does.
posted by mark k at 12:43 PM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yes, but the per episode figures for American stars wouldn't include residuals either.

It's not residuals we're talking. It's any money of any kind paid out from any source other than license fee money directly. So, any portion of any actor's salary paid through a production company or BBC International or whatever, will simply be omitted. Now what portion of, say, Capaldi's salary is paid directly from license fee money - i.e. how large a prob if his real income does the figure in the list represent? We have no clue. We do not have that information. At best we can conjecture.

Similarly, the aggregate numbers for pay disparities by gender, ethnicity, etc. would probably look way, way worse if we had a more complete picture - the BBC itself is more progressive with pay and casting decisions than most production companies. Heck, the figures from Top Gear would likely skew the stats significantly on their own.
posted by Dysk at 10:05 PM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


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