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Is the BBC institutionally mysoginistic?

January 10, 2018

About twenty years ago, a Judicial Inquiry following a notorious murder in south London found the police to be ‘institutionally racist.’ It was the first time an institution or organisation had been ‘found guilty’ of a behaviour that if displayed in an individual would be a crime.

Mysoginism, as such, isn’t against the law, though if it ‘presents’ in a way that breaches a law – for instance the Equal Pay Act – then I suppose it is. The BBC is so famous for its aching political correctness that it has turned its own tortuous handbook of safe-speak BS into a sitcom (W1A), that manages to be both very funny and laughable at the same time. How stupid, then, that it should be caught out, again, simply paying vastly less to women doing the same job as men, and, again, trying to hide the fact.

An outstanding female international editor has quit her job because she found that another brilliant  (male) international editor was paid a load more than her, and yet another (male), who basically just reads out the editorials of the main papers in his territory, was paid over twice as much.

The BBC says it takes gender pay equality seriously and the average gap between men and women in the BBC is lower than in most big companies and organisations. ‘We’re rubbish but others are more rubbish than us’ isn’t a great defence for anything really and amounts to ‘oh, why are you picking on us?’. That would be because you are – and don’t you lean on it when it suits you – a great national institution and you are paid for directly by the public.

To imply you should only be held to the standards of any private company is not ground the BBC wants to be on; it is very thin ice. As a major fan of the BBC (no, really), it seems to need an intervention by its friends. The first step to recovery (survival) is transparency. There are brilliant and incredible things about the BBC – such as BBC2, Radio 4, some of its news and politics and arts coverage and more – that wouldn’t be done at all if it wasn’t there. And, on balance, the best of way it being there may well be some kind of licence fee. But, whatever the funding model, the BBC can’t simply stay in denial about its need as a creative organisation to do much, much less and do it better. And as a public corporate entity it has to set governance standards higher than the private sector while managing a payroll that remembers it is really in the public sector – BBC managers oversee budgets, not P&Ls.

If it doesn’t face the future honestly, how likely is its legal right to turn people who don’t pay its licence into criminals going to last? On that: The Register analysed three months of data from the City of London Magistrates Court in 2017 and found Capita – the BBC’s aggressive outsource collector of licence fees – disproportionately targeted women for non-payment prosecution, and 75 per cent of all criminal convictions were secured against women.  Just saying.

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