The row over high salaries at the BBC has so far shed very little light on the most pay important inequalities at the company, and more broadly in “the cultural industries”.
The row has centred on the gender gap in pay among the top-paid “talent”. With Chris Evans netting £2 million last year and Claudia Winkleman on “just” £450,000. One of the higher-paid (but not highest-paid) men, Casualty star Tom Chambers, added some more sexist bullshit to the debate by saying men like him had wives and children to feed. Because, of course, women don’t have dependants.
We didn’t get to know many of the salaries because a lot of the money goes through independent production companies, further illustrating the point that it is the “pay ethics” of the market which govern what people get. In this crazy world, the going rate for a Chris Evans is a very lot of money. But the gender dimension to this debate is a bit of a red herring.
Of course men and women should be paid equally for doing equivalent job but surely the likes of Chris Evans shouldn’t be getting 2 million of public money! The other side of this story is that this relatively thin layer of outrageously pampered presenters and senior executives rest on the work of hundreds of poorly paid workers — technicians, admin staff, cleaners, canteen workers, researchers. Many of these staff involved in making other people look good barely earn the London Living Wage. Last year, the union BECTU was knocked back by the BBC on its claim for a minimum BBC salary of £20,000. That is a scandal!