BBC chief responds to letter from female broadcasters demanding equal pay

Emily Maitlis, Newsnight presenter, is among more than 40 female BBC journalists and presenters who have signed a letter demanding equal pay

The Director-General of the BBC said he will "value the contribution" of more than 40 senior female presenters and reporters who signed a letter demanding immediate action from him to tackle the gender pay gap.

Lord (Tony) Hall said work was under way to close disparities between how much men and women are paid at the corporation.

His response follows a letter, signed by the likes of Clare Balding, Emily Maitlis and Fiona Bruce, which called for action to sort out pay inequality "now", rather than by Lord Hall's self-imposed 2020 timescale.

Veteran BBC radio Ulster broadcaster and former Talkback presenter Wendy Austin was among the signatories.

Lord Hall said: "We are not however making a standing start. Work is already well under way across the organisation to help achieve this.

"There will be wider consultation meetings over the next two months so we can accelerate further change in the autumn. I would obviously value your contribution and thinking as part of this process.

"When figures are published next year I am confident they will look very different."

The original letter, coordinated by Woman's Hour host Jane Garvey, came after documents setting out the pay for staff on more than £150,000 showed a sizeable gap in the earnings of the corporation's best-known male and female presenters and actors.

Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topped the list on more than £2 million, while the highest paid woman was Strictly's Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000-£499,999.

In the letter, the signatories - which also includes Wimbledon presenter Sue Barker, Today programme journalists Mishal Husain and Sarah Montague - said they would be "prepared to meet" Mr Hall "so that future generations of women do not face this kind of discrimination".

Presenter Andrew Marr, who is paid up to £449,999, said he received a high salary because he had been around for a long time.

Speaking on his Sunday morning show, he said: "People like me, I have been around for a long time, we get paid more because we have got experience.

"I'm a bit grizzled, going a bit weird around the edges.

"But if I had been born Audrey Marr rather than Andrew Marr, I would have been out 10 years ago.

"There's a real lack of older women on the screen."

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