January 26, 2018 / 8:29 AM / 25 days ago

Four senior BBC male journalists agree pay cuts after inequality row

LONDON (Reuters) - Four of the highest paid male BBC journalists have agreed to pay cuts, the broadcaster said on Friday, following revelations that its top male news reporters and presenters were earning significantly more than women doing similar jobs.

Radio broadcasters Jeremy Vine and John Humphrys, news anchor Huw Edwards and North America editor Jon Sopel had all agreed either formally or in principle to salary cuts, the BBC said on its website.

The broadcaster was forced to disclose last year that two thirds of the highest earners on air were men.

Funded by a licence fee levied on TV viewers, the BBC is closely scrutinised and held to exacting standards by the public and rival media. The pay disclosures, which it had resisted, highlighted a broader debate about gender inequality.

Director-General Tony Hall pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020, but the organisation has been criticised by its own journalists and by lawmakers for not acting fast enough.

Its China editor Carrie Gracie, who was paid significantly less than her male counterparts, resigned her role last month to fight against what she called the “secretive and illegal BBC pay culture”.

North America editor Sopel, one of the four who had agreed to a salary cut, earned between 200,000 pounds and 249,999 pounds ($285,100-$356,373) in 2016/17, the disclosures showed.

Gracie said she was paid 135,000 pounds a year as China editor.

The highest paid of the four was Jeremy Vine, who earned between 700,000 pounds and 749,999 pounds for radio and TV work. Today radio programme presenter Humphrys earned between 600,000 pounds and 649,999 pounds, while news anchor Edwards was paid between 550,000 pounds and 599,999 pounds.

The BBC said the level of the cuts was not yet known.

Tony Hall and Carrie Gracie will be questioned by a committee of lawmakers on Wednesday about BBC pay.

($1 = 0.7015 pounds)

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Ralph Boulton

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