Martha Kearney confronts BBC boss over gender pay gap

Martha Kearney took her BBC boss to task in public yesterday over why she is still paid less than her Today co-presenter John Humphrys

Martha Kearney took her BBC boss to task in public yesterday over why she is still paid less than her Today co-presenter John Humphrys

Martha Kearney took her BBC boss to task in public yesterday over why she is still paid less than her Today co-presenter John Humphrys

Martha Kearney took her BBC boss to task in public yesterday over why she is still paid less than her Today co-presenter John Humphrys.

In a discussion with the Radio 4 programme’s editor, Sarah Sands, at the Hay Festival, she disputed the Corporation’s claim to be tackling the gender pay gap.

Miss Kearney told her: ‘I’m not paid the same as John Humphrys’ – forcing Mrs Sands to attempt to defend the disparity.

Miss Kearney, who joined Today in April, was revealed to be earning between £200,000 and £249,999 a year when the BBC published the salaries of its highest-earning stars last July. 

Humphrys, 74, took home between £600,000 and £649,000, although he said he will now be earning ‘hugely less’ after agreeing to take a pay cut.

Mrs Sands, 56, who took over as Today editor last year, defended Humphrys’ pay and insisted the gap could not change ‘overnight’. 

This prompted Miss Kearney, 60, who has worked for the BBC since 1990, to ask: ‘Why can’t we do that?’

Mrs Sands, 56, who took over as Today editor last year, defended Humphrys¿ pay and insisted the gap could not change ¿overnight¿

Mrs Sands, 56, who took over as Today editor last year, defended Humphrys¿ pay and insisted the gap could not change ¿overnight¿

Mrs Sands, 56, who took over as Today editor last year, defended Humphrys’ pay and insisted the gap could not change ‘overnight’

Mrs Sands said: ‘This is a historic thing. John is one of the most senior journalists – he has done the Today programme for 30 years, he is one of the great stars of journalism. The market in news is not what it was.

‘I think people used to be paid as if it was entertainment, and that’s not going to happen any more. We’re seeing male salaries come down at the BBC. Keep the faith – it will happen.’ Miss Kearney said the gender pay gap had been ‘dominating talk’ inside the Corporation.

She said: ‘We were shocked by the figures and there was certainly anger about them. If, as women who are strong and confident, we have ended up in this position, how much more difficult is it for women in other spheres of life?’

Miss Kearney also complained that a significant gender gap still exists in ‘landmark’ BBC series. ‘With the honourable exception of Mary Beard you do not see many women fronting those programmes,’ she said.

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