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Claudia Winkleman arrives for the GQ 25th Anniversary Exhibition at Phillips De Pury on November 12, 2013 in London, England.
Of the 96 top people listed, only 34 are women while the remaining 62 were men. Just one, Claudia Winkleman, who presents entertainment shows including Saturday night’s “Strictly Come Dancing,” made it into the top 10.
The salaries of female presenters are also largely dwarfed by their male counterparts. Overall, 25 men on the talent list receive more than £250,000 per year, compared to just nine women.
The announcement is expected to spark a backlash within the organization, where staff will learn for the first time how their pay compares with colleagues in similar roles. It is also likely to raise new questions from the government and TV license-payers as the gender pay gap issue continues to dominate public discussion.
Legal professionals have already suggested that female presenters may find themselves with grounds for a sex discrimination or equal pay claim if they can show they do similar work.
“To defeat such a claim, the BBC would have to demonstrate that there is an explanation for the difference, which has nothing to do with gender. They will likely try to rely on years of experience, audience ratings for particular shows and differences between program genres but, if the disparities are as striking as many expect them to be, it will not be an easy argument,” Ruth Gamble, a partner at BDBF law firm, told CNBC via email Wednesday.
The BBC’s director-general admitted at the release of the report that there is work to be done to bridge the pay gap.
“Is this where we want to be? No” Tony Hall said.
He said that the BBC needs to “go further and faster on issues of gender and diversity,” but insisted that the broadcaster is doing better than many of its peers in the media industry.
He also told the BBC’s “Today Programme” on Wednesday that at 10 percent, the gender pay gap in the BBC is well below the U.K. average of 18 percent. This figure is yet to be officially audited.
Hall claimed the BBC will close the gender pay gap and strive for parity in the number of men and women in on-air slots by 2020.