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Top BBC men take wage cuts in gender pay row

3 min

London (AFP)

Six top male BBC presenters agreed to take wage cuts Friday after the broadcaster's female China editor quit in protest over unequal pay.

The six, who are among the British Broadcasting Corporation's top-earning journalists, voluntarily decided to take a pay cut.

In July the publicly-funded BBC for the first time published the salaries of its highest-paid stars, in brackets of £50,000, ($71,000, 57,000 euros) following pressure from parliament.

Twelve of the top 14 were men, as were two-thirds of BBC staff earning more than £150,000.

Carrie Gracie, who was on £135,000 a year, quit last month as the BBC's China news editor and returned to the London television newsroom in protest at the "indefensible pay gap".

Among her fellow international editors, North America editor Jon Sopel earned £200,000 to £250,000, while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned £150,000 to £200,000.

Sopel was among the six who agreed to a pay cut, along with John Humphrys, who anchors BBC radio's main morning news programme.

A leaked, off-air exchange between the pair last month, joking about how much of their salaries they were going to hand over to Gracie, caused uproar at the BBC.

Humphrys is having his pay slashed from more than £600,000 to between £250,000 and £300,000.

"It was my decision and it's the third and they have been volunteered in each case," he said.

"The BBC is in a very, very different position from what it was all those years ago when I was, like many other people in the BBC, having money pretty much thrust upon us."

He said he thought the controversy would "blow over".

- BBC says 'very grateful' -

Others taking a pay cut are Humphrys' colleague Nick Robinson, Huw Edwards, who anchors the main evening television news, and breakfast radio presenter Nicky Campbell.

The sixth is afternoon radio show host Jeremy Vine, the BBC's best-paid journalist-presenter, who earns between £700,000 and £750,000 a year.

"I support my female colleagues who have rightly said that they should be paid the same when they are doing the same job," he said.

A BBC statement said the corporation was "very grateful" to the presenters who had agreed to pay cuts.

"The final details of some of these changes are still being discussed."

The BBC's best-paid stars are breakfast radio host Chris Evans (at least £2.2 million), football presenter Gary Lineker (at least £1.75 million) and chat show host Graham Norton (at least £850,000).

The best-paid female star, joint-eighth on the list, was TV dancing contest co-presenter Claudia Winkleman, on at least £450,000.

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