BBC Pays John McEnroe 10 Times What it Pays Martina Navratilova
It may be time for transparency on pay structures so employees know what others in comparable positions are making.
AP (“Navratilova ‘angry’ at pay gap to McEnroe for BBC work“):
Martina Navratilova is “angry” and feels let down by the BBC after learning that John McEnroe gets paid at least 10 times more than her for their broadcasting roles at Wimbledon.
In a list of the BBC’s highest-paid workers published last year, it was revealed that McEnroe earned between 150,000-199,999 pounds ($210,000-280,000) for working at Wimbledon.
Navratilova said she gets paid 15,000 pounds ($21,000).
Navratilova, a nine-time singles champion at the All England Club, said she was told by the BBC that she earns a “comparable amount, so … we were not told the truth.”
“It’s extremely unfair and it makes me angry for the other women that I think go through this,” Navratilova told “Panorama: Britain’s Equal Pay Scandal,” a program being aired on the BBC on Monday.
The BBC responded to Navratilova’s comments by saying that, as an “occasional contributor,” she appears on fewer broadcasts and is on a different type of contract than McEnroe.
“John and Martina perform different roles in the team, and John’s role is of a different scale, scope and time commitment,” the BBC said in a statement. “They are simply not comparable.”
The corporation said that while Navratilova is paid per appearance, has a fixed volume of work and has no contractual commitment, McEnroe is on call for the entire 13 days of the tournament, has a larger breadth of work — including radio and publicity — and has a contract that means he cannot work for another British broadcaster without the BBC’s permission.
“He is a defining voice within the BBC’s coverage,” the BBC said. “He is widely considered to be the best expert/commentator in the sport, highly valued by our audiences … His pay reflects all of this; gender isn’t a factor.”
Navratilova said her agent will ask for more money in future to work for the BBC.
The gender pay gap at the BBC has been a talking point since the salaries of top BBC talent were revealed last year. A review commissioned by the BBC found a 6.8 percent gender pay gap, but “no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making.”
Third Way’s Mieke Eoyang thinks “Martina is getting screwed here.” It’s hard to argue otherwise.
BBC’s explanation isn’t completely wrong. McEnroe is almost certainly a more enjoyable color analyst and he’s especially valuable in his Wimbledon commentary, given his success there. But it’s not as if Navratilova isn’t a huge star in her own right. A contemporary of McEnroe’s, she certainly won more titles. Indeed, she won more Wimbledon titles (9) than he won Grand Slams (7). McEnroe is and always was a bigger personality than Navratilova and may well draw more eyeballs. There’s an argument for paying him more. But ten times more? (Give BBC credit: the numbers are indeed “comparable”—ten is a nice, round number for comparison’s sake.)
Complicating matters, tennis is one of the few sports—the only sport?—where the men’s and women’s games are similarly popular. We’re not comparing commenters on NBA vs. WNBA games here.
As always in these discussions, it may simply be that McEnroe’s agent is a better negotiator than Navratilova’s. She was, presumably, perfectly happy to work for $21,000 for the fortnight before finding out McEnroe was doing considerably better. But the result is nonetheless embarrassing for BBC.
While there are certainly arguments against it, the solution to these issues may well be to simply demand employers be transparent about their pay structures. New employees ought know what the going rate for people in like positions in the company and long-time employees ought be aware if they’re being shortchanged compared to new hires. And, of course, disparities along racial, ethnic, and sex lines would be less likely.