BBC reports progress on diversity and gender pay gap but warns of ‘urgent reform’

Posted on: September 15, 2020 by admin

The BBC today reported progress on diversity and the gender pay gap but warned that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused “exceptional challenges” that required reform at “an urgent pace”.

Announced as part of the BBC’s published annual report, the corporation said that while it had failed to reach parity in its gender pay gap, the gap had narrowed to 6.2 percent from 6.7 percent last year. This was “significantly lower than the national average”, it said. The corporation reported that it had also reached a 55:45 split between men and women in on-air roles with top pay.

The report also saw a substantial increase in salaries for some female stars. Four women made the top ten salaries this year including Zoe Ball, Fiona Bruce, Vanessa Feltz and Lauren Laverne.

The report also outlines the corporation’s Creative Diversity Commitment to prioritise £100 million of the existing TV commissioning budget – and £12 million of the existing radio budget – over three years from 2021/22 towards diverse and inclusive content. It follows the appointment of June Sarpong as Creative Diversity Director this year. On-screen representation of people of colour is up to 27% of all BBC contributors, but among the staff who help programmes get on air it remains below 10%.

The report, which covers the last year of Lord Hall’s tenure as Director General, warns of further savings required following the effect of the Covid-19 crisis.

BBC Chairman, David Clementi, said: “This Annual Report tells the story of a BBC that remains of huge value at home and abroad, but is not without considerable challenges.  Going into the coronavirus crisis the BBC already had 31% less to spend on UK public services, than if the licence fee had risen with inflation since 2010.  Now the severe impact of Covid-19 means that we have to save an extra £125m – on top of additional significant savings – in a tougher than ever marketplace.   In this context, the BBC must redouble its efforts to serve all audiences, while maximising commercial revenues and supporting the creative industries’ recovery across the UK.”

In an analysis, media editor Amol Rajan said: “The other big story is the BBC’s finances. In the medium-term, they are badly strained. It is striking that by the end of next year, the BBC will have delivered around £800m in savings in just five years.

“But the fact that the licence fee didn’t rise with inflation between 2010 and 2017, and the £125m hit (at least) from the coronavirus pandemic, are a huge injury to the bottom line for the coming year.”

The newly appointed Director General Tim Davie outlined his aims for the corporation earlier this month which included renewing the BBC’s commitment to impartiality as well as focussing on unique, high impact content.

Key findings:

  • During the period of the report (April 2019 to March 2020) over 90% of the UK population used the BBC each week. 
  • The BBC also remains number one for impartial news coverage, with 51% of news consumers naming the BBC as the source they are most likely to turn to. This is up from 44% in 2018/19 and far ahead of the next nearest provider. A record breaking 81 million UK browsers came to BBC News in the week 16 March. Viewing figures for TV news hit their highest level since 2003.  Looking back to the General Election in December of last year, 87% of UK adults overall and 83% of young adults came to BBC News for election coverage.
  • Globally the BBC is now reaching 468m people, up 11% on last year. BBC World News TV Channel now reaches 112m per week globally, up 12.1% on last year. With the support of Government, the corporation says its ambition is to reach a billion people globally over the next decade, further building the reputation of the UK and the BBC.
  • The UK’s 16-34 year olds spent seven and a half hours with the BBC’s services each week, on average more media time than any other brand in 2019/20.
  • The report showed that over half of network television production was in the nations and regions, with 50.7% from outside London and 20.8% from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • The corporation has also stuck to its commitment to locating at least half of its employees outside of London. Some 52% are currently based outside of the M25.