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GuyBarry
1243245.  Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:20 pm Reply with quote

I recently listened to this Radio 4 profile of Chris Evans, the BBC's highest-paid star, presented by Mark Coles. This is what he says about one minute in:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08ylntz#play

"I'm paid around £20,000 a year to make this programme. That means that I'd have to present almost 4000 Profiles - that's one a week for the next 75 years - to get what Chris Evans earned in one year. Sadly, I don't think I'll live that long. He's younger than me, too."

So does anyone agree with me that all this hoo-ha about the so-called "gender pay gap" at the BBC is missing the point?

The issue isn't the difference in pay between a small number of highly-paid male presenters and a small number of slightly less highly-paid female presenters. The issue is the vast disparity in pay between an elite group of "names", who have their own agents and are able to negotiate their own fees, and the vast majority of BBC employees, who are on a staff contract and have to accept the going rate for the job. A small number of people can trade on the issue of their own celebrity, and maybe the likes of Chris Evans have got better agents than most. But really, if I were Mark Coles, I'd find it hard to feel sorry for Claudia Winkleman languishing on a paltry £450,000.

(I've just switched off her Radio 2 show, by the way. She must be one of the most insipid presenters on the network.)

 
tetsabb
1243282.  Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:53 am Reply with quote

I read that ITV pay Ant'n'Dec more than the Beeb pays all those'celebs' put together.

 
dr.bob
1243297.  Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:02 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
The issue isn't the difference in pay between a small number of highly-paid male presenters and a small number of slightly less highly-paid female presenters. The issue is the vast disparity in pay between an elite group of "names", who have their own agents and are able to negotiate their own fees, and the vast majority of BBC employees, who are on a staff contract and have to accept the going rate for the job.


To be fair, I would argue they were both issues, but you're right to raise the second. I saw a journalist on the BBC News channel in "The Papers" section who mentioned that there was a huge cliff edge in BBC salaries below 150,000. Where he got his data from, I don't know, so I can't say how reliable it is, but there does seem to be something going on here.

You mention Mark Coles presenting "Profiles" on Radio 4, though his comparison of producing one show a week for 75 years seems a disingenuous comparison. Bear in mind that "Profiles" is a 13 minute show that airs once a week on Radio4. By comparison, Chris Evans' radio show on Radio2 lasts for 3 hours every weekday. That's 900 minutes of broadcast every week.

Clearly, Mr Evans is going to earn more simply on a pro rata basis because he works longer hours. If you were to scale up Mark Coles' salary to simply reflect the extra hours, his 20,000 per year scales up to over 1.3 million per year, which would make him the third highest paid person in the BBC, way ahead of Graham Norton.

OK, maybe on-air time is not the best metric to measure salaries. After all, I'm guessing that "Profile" takes longer the 13 minutes per week to record and produce, while Chris Evans' show is live. Having said that, this doesn't preclude Mr Evans doing some homework to prepare for a show as well. Either way, it seems only right to compare salaries per amount of hours worked, which implies that Mr Coles may not be doing as badly as it first appears.

And that's before we even get into the matter of ratings.

 
barbados
1243302.  Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:40 am Reply with quote

I'd suggest that is the danger of comparing Dave with Susan* so to speak, unless you are comparing like for like then the figures presented are pointless


*or indeed Dan and Louise

 
GuyBarry
1243369.  Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:41 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:

To be fair, I would argue they were both issues, but you're right to raise the second. I saw a journalist on the BBC News channel in "The Papers" section who mentioned that there was a huge cliff edge in BBC salaries below 150,000. Where he got his data from, I don't know, so I can't say how reliable it is, but there does seem to be something going on here.


This Guardian report, quoting a BBC email to the broadcasting union Bectu, says that 400 BBC employees earn less than £20,000 a year - or less than 1% of Chris Evans' wages. (According to Wikipedia, the BBC employs over 20,950 staff in total, but I don't know what its total staff budget is.)

Quote:
You mention Mark Coles presenting "Profiles" on Radio 4, though his comparison of producing one show a week for 75 years seems a disingenuous comparison. Bear in mind that "Profiles" is a 13 minute show that airs once a week on Radio4. By comparison, Chris Evans' radio show on Radio2 lasts for 3 hours every weekday. That's 900 minutes of broadcast every week.

Clearly, Mr Evans is going to earn more simply on a pro rata basis because he works longer hours.


You may have a point there. One thing I hadn't realized is that Mark Coles is no longer a BBC employee - he left in 2011 to set up his own independent production company, syndicating programmes to radio stations around the world, so his comments were maybe a little disingenuous!

Quote:
If you were to scale up Mark Coles' salary to simply reflect the extra hours, his 20,000 per year scales up to over 1.3 million per year, which would make him the third highest paid person in the BBC, way ahead of Graham Norton.

OK, maybe on-air time is not the best metric to measure salaries. After all, I'm guessing that "Profile" takes longer the 13 minutes per week to record and produce, while Chris Evans' show is live.


I would have thought that putting together a programme like "Profile" would involve several days' work every week, though I don't know how much of the actual production Mark Coles is involved with. I certainly get the impression that he does rather more than just turn up and read a 13-minute script (he presumably writes the script himself).

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Having said that, this doesn't preclude Mr Evans doing some homework to prepare for a show as well.


Does presenting a show like that take a lot of preparation? I would guess that a lot of it is off the cuff. He's not even on the air for most of the time - he's just playing records.

The thing about celebrity culture, as I see it, is that celebrities aren't primarily paid for what they do, but for who they are. Chris Evans is paid £2.2 million not for playing records (which many other BBC DJs do for a fraction of the money), but for being Chris Evans. That's why it's almost impossible to compare salaries as one would do for a conventional job - no one else is Chris Evans, so how can his salary be realistically judged against anyone else's?

If you look down the list of 96 names you'll see that they're nearly all presenters - people with "name" recognition. Where are all the producers and technicians and writers and other essential BBC staff? They can't command those sorts of salaries because the vast majority of the general public have no idea who they are. Gary Lineker doesn't get £1.75 million because of his skill in reading an autocue - he gets it because of his immense celebrity as a former England footballer.

I feel sorry for the BBC management. They didn't want to release these figures, but were forced to by the government. I'm sure there are much worse pay disparities in the rest of the media, in professional sport, film, music and all other areas of "celebrity" culture, but the BBC is currently getting it in the neck because it's a publicly-funded organization. This could prove to be just the thin end of the wedge.

 
suze
1243376.  Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:12 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
Does presenting a show like that take a lot of preparation? I would guess that a lot of it is off the cuff. He's not even on the air for most of the time - he's just playing records.


I've never been a radio presenter, but my first husband was one (on campus radiio in Canada) and my cousin is one (on public radio in Poland).

My cousin is very much a journalist first and presenter second, and she's written and then read a two minute newscast so many times that she doesn't have to think about it too much any more. She also makes documentaries (mainly for radio, but also a few times for television), and a one hour documentary can take months to prepare properly.

Only a handful of times has she sat in to present a show based around playing records and talking rubbish, but she finds it far more like hard work than the news formats that she's used to. Sure, that's partly because it's not what she knows and it's not what comes naturally to her, but also because you have to think about several things at once.

While one record is playing, you have to line up the next record. That's much easier now because the "records" are actually files on a computer, but until fairly recently the presenter actually had two record decks in front of her and needed to have the stylus in precisely the right place when she switched from one deck to the other.

At the same time, the presenter has to remember what - if anything - she is going to say between songs, how many minutes it is until she must break for the weather forecast, that the next song but two doesn't have a fade out and finishes on a chord - dead air is a hanging offence - and that it's the producer's niece's birthday and she will be mighty offended if you forget to give her a shout out.

It was a bit easier for my first husband, because his station was listened to mainly by students and was supposed to sound a bit home made. But he didn't have a producer and was flying solo, and there was no playlist so he had to choose the records himself. Even that is harder than it sounds, because you can't play a record that neither you nor the station library possesses, and you mustn't play your own favourite songs all the time because they're not everyone's favourite songs.

 
dr.bob
1243388.  Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:10 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
This Guardian report, quoting a BBC email to the broadcasting union Bectu, says that 400 BBC employees earn less than £20,000 a year - or less than 1% of Chris Evans' wages.


That's an incomplete figure, because it doesn't tell you how much work they do for that money. Are these people working 9-5, 5 days a week, or are they just popping in for one day a week to do a limited amount of work on one programme? If the former, then £20,000 a year seems a bit mean. If the latter, then it's actually pretty generous.

GuyBarry wrote:
The thing about celebrity culture, as I see it, is that celebrities aren't primarily paid for what they do, but for who they are. Chris Evans is paid £2.2 million not for playing records (which many other BBC DJs do for a fraction of the money), but for being Chris Evans. That's why it's almost impossible to compare salaries as one would do for a conventional job - no one else is Chris Evans, so how can his salary be realistically judged against anyone else's?


For sure, Chris Evans is being paid for being Chris Evans, but the main reason the BBC think this is a good thing to pay for is that it seems to persuade people to listen to his radio show. As he's a celebrity, people who like him are more likely to tune in to his radio show than if it was presented by someone who was completely anonymous.

You can compare his salary to someone else if they are doing a similar job and pulling in similar ratings. For sure, that makes comparison difficult, but not impossible.

GuyBarry wrote:
If you look down the list of 96 names you'll see that they're nearly all presenters - people with "name" recognition.


That's just because they were the ones the news media were interested in.

GuyBarry wrote:
Where are all the producers and technicians and writers and other essential BBC staff?


Here you go:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/corporate2/insidethebbc/managementstructure/biographies/

 
barbados
1243410.  Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:54 pm Reply with quote

One job that would be somewhat comparable would be controllers of radio 3, 4, and 5. They kind of compare as non "mass market" stations, that appear across an equal number of platforms.
The highest paid of the three is the controller of Radio 4 - the odd one out gender wise

 
GuyBarry
1243457.  Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:15 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
GuyBarry wrote:
This Guardian report, quoting a BBC email to the broadcasting union Bectu, says that 400 BBC employees earn less than £20,000 a year - or less than 1% of Chris Evans' wages.


That's an incomplete figure, because it doesn't tell you how much work they do for that money. Are these people working 9-5, 5 days a week, or are they just popping in for one day a week to do a limited amount of work on one programme?


I would assume that either they're working full-time, or the quoted figure is a full-time equivalent rate. That's how annual salaries are usually quoted in my experience.

Quote:
For sure, Chris Evans is being paid for being Chris Evans, but the main reason the BBC think this is a good thing to pay for is that it seems to persuade people to listen to his radio show. As he's a celebrity, people who like him are more likely to tune in to his radio show than if it was presented by someone who was completely anonymous.


Well, the choice isn't between Chris Evans and an unknown, but between Chris Evans and other well-known DJs who might be prepared to do the job for less.

Quote:
You can compare his salary to someone else if they are doing a similar job and pulling in similar ratings. For sure, that makes comparison difficult, but not impossible.


I think the Radio 2 breakfast show gets around 9 million listeners a week - the highest-rating radio breakfast show in the country. So there isn't really anything to compare it with. Would it get as many listeners if it were presented by, say, Simon Mayo (currently on £350,000+ for doing the Drivetime show)? I've really no idea. The trouble is that, now that everyone knows how much Chris Evans is getting, they'll all want the same money for doing a similar job.

Quote:
GuyBarry wrote:
If you look down the list of 96 names you'll see that they're nearly all presenters - people with "name" recognition.


That's just because they were the ones the news media were interested in.


I don't understand. The BBC published a list of 96 names. Twelve of those 96 came under the heading of "specialist contractors and writers". The remaining 84, as far as I can see, are all people who appear on air - TV presenters, actors, radio DJs and presenters, etc. You can hardly blame the media for concentrating on those 84 at the expense of the other 12. (Incidentally I see that Roy Clarke - writer of Still Open All Hours and formerly of Last of the Summer Wine - appears on the list, at the grand old age of 87.)

Quote:
GuyBarry wrote:
Where are all the producers and technicians and writers and other essential BBC staff?


Here you go:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/corporate2/insidethebbc/managementstructure/biographies/


So when were these names published then? I hadn't realized there was a separate list, so thanks for pointing that out. Those people are all senior management as far as I can see - I didn't notice any production, technical or creative staff.

This is what annoys me, I suppose. You have a production team that does all the hard work of actually putting a programme together, and then in comes some big-name presenter who earns far more than any of them, and reaps huge benefits from all the work they've put in. I'm not saying that presenters don't put any work in themselves, but I don't suppose that John Humphrys or Mishal Husain sits in with the Today production team all day long deciding what items to cover or preparing running-orders. (I remember the Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow once saying that he actually took part in the morning planning meeting for his own programme, and was regarded as highly unusual for doing so.)

Another thing that strikes me about this story is that it's almost impossible to get an objective report of it. All the people on TV and radio covering the story have either been on the list themselves, or (presumably jealous) colleagues who didn't make the list, or (presumably interested) broadcasters from rival organizations. How is the general public supposed to get an unbiased view when the people reporting the story are themselves the story?

 
GuyBarry
1243462.  Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:42 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
One job that would be somewhat comparable would be controllers of radio 3, 4, and 5. They kind of compare as non "mass market" stations, that appear across an equal number of platforms.


Radio 4 is the second most popular station in the country after Radio 2, so I think it qualifies as a "mass market" station. Radio 5 Live comes in sixth.

Quote:
The highest paid of the three is the controller of Radio 4 - the odd one out gender wise


Where did you get the salary figures from? The list posted by dr.bob merely lists names of all managers getting over £150,000.

I was surprised to note that the Controller of Radio 2 doesn't appear on the list. After a quick Google, I was even more surprised to find that the post no longer exists:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2016/radio-music-leadership-changes

 
dr.bob
1243494.  Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:10 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
I would assume that either they're working full-time, or the quoted figure is a full-time equivalent rate. That's how annual salaries are usually quoted in my experience.


The article doesn't specify this, however, and the previous example of Mark Coles involved someone receiving a £20,000 per year salary for something which must be a less than 9-5 job given his other interests.

The problem with dealing with media types is that working freelance for several different projects is the norm in that world.

GuyBarry wrote:
Well, the choice isn't between Chris Evans and an unknown, but between Chris Evans and other well-known DJs who might be prepared to do the job for less.


Fair point.

GuyBarry wrote:
I think the Radio 2 breakfast show gets around 9 million listeners a week - the highest-rating radio breakfast show in the country. So there isn't really anything to compare it with.


I guess you can compare it to all those other breakfast shows that get far fewer listeners :)

GuyBarry wrote:
This is what annoys me, I suppose. You have a production team that does all the hard work of actually putting a programme together, and then in comes some big-name presenter who earns far more than any of them, and reaps huge benefits from all the work they've put in.


That's true but bear in mind that these things are being produced in an active market. If the BBC thought it could generate similar viewing figures with a cheaper presenter, it would surely opt to do so. Likewise, if a production team is unhappy with they pay they receive, there are other channels they can pitch their work to.

To be honest, given the choice, I would much rather work behind the scenes for less money than be a big star. The famous names you see on TV are subject to the fickleness of public taste. Someone can be a huge name one month, and then struggle to get arrested a short time later. By contrast, the less well known names in the background will carry on doing the same work as they will be recognised by others in the industry as producing good work.

As a "for instance", I randomly had a look at some IMDB entries for "Hi-De-Hi" simply because I remembered Su Pollard as being a big star at the time, but someone who you generally don't hear of these days. Sure enough, her IMDB profile lists a bunch of TV series all produced by the same people who did Hi-De-Hi, which came to an end in 1997. After that year, she has only 4 entries in her profile. Compare and contrast this to Caroline Noble. Not heard of her? Why would you? She's a make-up artist who worked on Hi-De-Hi. Her IMDB profile shows a busy career that's still very active right up to the present day. I doubt she's ever earned as much as the big stars that she slaps make-up onto the faces of, but at least she's continued to earn throughout her working life.

GuyBarry wrote:
How is the general public supposed to get an unbiased view when the people reporting the story are themselves the story?


At the risk of going all Trumpy about this, this is a problem with the mainstream media. Compare it to the rather limited reporting of the Panama papers scandal a few years ago. Of course, it was entirely coincidence that the majority of newspaper owners were mentioned in those self-same papers.

GuyBarry wrote:
Where did you get the salary figures from? The list posted by dr.bob merely lists names of all managers getting over £150,000.


The list includes the Controllers of Radios 3, 4, and 5.

 
PDR
1243507.  Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:03 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:

This is what annoys me, I suppose. You have a production team that does all the hard work of actually putting a programme together, and then in comes some big-name presenter who earns far more than any of them, and reaps huge benefits from all the work they've put in. I'm not saying that presenters don't put any work in themselves, but I don't suppose that John Humphrys or Mishal Husain sits in with the Today production team all day long deciding what items to cover or preparing running-orders.


As I have said previously - there are two distinct roles. Newsreaders just turn up and read the autocue (a bit more, actually, but that sort of idea). Newscasters strongly participate in the generation of the running order and usually write their own copy before readiung it. And of course they do the interviews, for which they have generated the pojnts and questions using background briefs generated by researchers and assistant producers.

In the case of the Today programme it was covered in a feature programme a few years back. The programme airs at 06:00, but the newscasters (Humphries et al) are in the production office working from about 03:00 IIRC.

PDR

 
GuyBarry
1243513.  Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:53 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
GuyBarry wrote:

This is what annoys me, I suppose. You have a production team that does all the hard work of actually putting a programme together, and then in comes some big-name presenter who earns far more than any of them, and reaps huge benefits from all the work they've put in. I'm not saying that presenters don't put any work in themselves, but I don't suppose that John Humphrys or Mishal Husain sits in with the Today production team all day long deciding what items to cover or preparing running-orders.


As I have said previously - there are two distinct roles. Newsreaders just turn up and read the autocue (a bit more, actually, but that sort of idea).


There's no autocue on radio, of course. BBC radio newsreaders read the script from a screen in front of them.

Quote:
Newscasters strongly participate in the generation of the running order and usually write their own copy before readiung it.


The BBC has never employed "newscasters". That was a term invented by ITN for their journalist-presenters when they set up a rival service to the BBC in the 1950s. I remember Reginald Bosanquet being described that way but I don't think the term has been used for many years now.

John Humphrys, Mishal Husain and the rest are certainly not "newscasters" in the ITN tradition. There's a clear division of labour between the BBC staff newsreaders, who read the news bulletins, and the Today presenters, who conduct interviews and introduce reports by BBC staff journalists. I think that News and Current Affairs were once separate departments but that no longer appears to be the case.

Quote:
And of course they do the interviews, for which they have generated the pojnts and questions using background briefs generated by researchers and assistant producers.


Indeed, which was the point I was making.

Quote:
In the case of the Today programme it was covered in a feature programme a few years back. The programme airs at 06:00, but the newscasters (Humphries et al) are in the production office working from about 03:00 IIRC.


Yes, and as I said above I don't want to detract from any of the work that the presenters put in. The point is that they couldn't command their ridiculously high salaries without the work of their dedicated production teams.

 
GuyBarry
1243516.  Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:35 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
GuyBarry wrote:
I would assume that either they're working full-time, or the quoted figure is a full-time equivalent rate. That's how annual salaries are usually quoted in my experience.


The article doesn't specify this, however, and the previous example of Mark Coles involved someone receiving a £20,000 per year salary for something which must be a less than 9-5 job given his other interests.


As I said earlier, I think Mark Coles was probably being a little disingenuous for the purposes of making an entertaining programme. The Guardian article was talking about people like runners and production assistants. According to Bectu general secretary Gerry Morrissey:

Quote:
“These people are earning anything between £15,000 and £18,000 to £19,000. We are talking about people who help make content who are in the same department that is commissioning the talent. The BBC is getting £4bn of licence fee payers’ money and it should at least commit to a liveable wage. We think £20,000 is not extortionate.”


Quote:
Likewise, if a production team is unhappy with they pay they receive, there are other channels they can pitch their work to.


Not if they're BBC staffers - or even ex-BBC staffers. I note that the BBC has now created a commercial arm called "BBC Studios" to produce many of its programmes that were previously created in-house, but how many of those programmes have a market outside the BBC? For example, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue is now billed as a "BBC Studios production". If Radio 4 doesn't want it, who's going to buy it?

Quote:
GuyBarry wrote:
Where did you get the salary figures from? The list posted by dr.bob merely lists names of all managers getting over £150,000.


The list includes the Controllers of Radios 3, 4, and 5.


But it doesn't say how much they earn, so I don't know how barbados drew the conclusion that the Controller of Radio 4 was better paid than her counterparts at Radios 3 and 5 Live. This document (which seems to be the official BBC one) puts Alan Davey, the Controller of Radio 3, and Gwyneth Williams, the Controller of Radios 4 and 4 Extra, in the same pay bracket at £150,000-199,999, but I can't see a figure for the Controller of Radio 5 Live.

[TRIVIA: Incidentally, did you know that I once worked with Alan Davey at the Department of Health and Social Security headquarters back in 1986/7? And that I spent a year in the same class as Sarah Montague, presenter of Today, in 1977/8? Weird how these people suddenly come back to haunt you.]

 
GuyBarry
1243523.  Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:14 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:

As a "for instance", I randomly had a look at some IMDB entries for "Hi-De-Hi" simply because I remembered Su Pollard as being a big star at the time, but someone who you generally don't hear of these days. Sure enough, her IMDB profile lists a bunch of TV series all produced by the same people who did Hi-De-Hi, which came to an end in 1997. After that year, she has only 4 entries in her profile.


Because she's been mainly working in theatre, of course. Here's her biography:

http://www.supollard.co.uk/bio.html

Why do people so often assume that if actors and actresses aren't "on the telly", they must be out of work? Strange.

 

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