Tennis star turned sports anchor Martina Navratilova has slammed the BBC. The former Wimbledon champ called the broadcaster an “old boys’ network,” following revelations co-host John McEnroe gets 10 times more for the same job.
In an upcoming interview with the BBC – a broadcaster rocked by repeated claims of pay inequality – the nine-time Wimbledon winner is expected to reveal she received approximately £15,000 (US$21,000) for her commentary gig. McEnroe, a three-time Wimbledon winner, is rumored to have received between £150,000 and £200,000.
Navratilova has called out the publicly funded media outlet for being misleading their employees. She claimed the BBC told her she was being paid similar to men doing a similar job. She commented: “We’re not being told the truth, that’s for sure… It’s still the good old boys’ network… The bottom line is that male voices are valued more than women’s voices.” She added that her agent will now push for a higher pay rate.
The BBC has attempted to explain themselves, saying McEnroe’s work was “a different scale, scope and time commitment.” It stated that their roles were not equal, therefore pay parity was not required.
“Along with Sue Barker, John is regarded as the face of our Wimbledon coverage,” a representative said. “He is a defining voice within the BBC’s coverage. He is widely considered to be the best expert/commentator in the sport, highly valued by our audiences and his contract means he cannot work for another UK broadcaster without our permission. His pay reflects all of this – gender isn’t a factor.”
The BBC says that McEnroe has featured 30 times for its Wimbledon coverage. This is in contrast with Martina’s 10 appearances.
The gender pay gap debate was sparked with the publishing of a list of the BBC’s top earners and their salaries. Only a third of those were women, and the top slots belonged to men – with the highest being breakfast DJ Chris Evans who earned between £2.2 million and £2.25 million in 2016/2017.
It led to action by 40 of the BBC’s biggest females names, who famously penned an open letter to upper management. Names attached included Clare Balding, Emily Maitlis and Claudia Winkleman.
This initiative prompted promises of changes to the BBC’s pay structure. Findings discovered that in general men were paid nearly 10 percent more than women. Some 500 people were judged to have had a smaller wage due to their gender.
BBC China Editor Carrie Gracie quit her role in an effort to oppose the pay gap, returning to her previous position in the BBC newsroom. Ex-presenter Maxine Mawhinney is understood to be thinking about bringing a lawsuit over pay disparity.
Fran Unsworth, BBC director of news and current affairs, said: “We don’t think we have acted illegally in regard to equal pay. That doesn’t mean, however, there won’t be instances and cases where there is inequality and we need to address those.”
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