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Visiting professor at KU takes BBC to court over unequal gender pay

By Steph Spyropoulou Nov 7, 2019
Photo by Vickie Flores/LNP/Shutterstock (10458511i) Television presenter, Samira Ahmed arrives at the Central London Employment Tribunal to attend an equal pay case hearing against the BBC. Samira Ahmed, who presents Newswatch on BBC One and Radio 4's Front Row claims she was paid less than male colleagues for doing equivalent work under the Equal Pay Act. Samira Ahmed employment tribunal, London, UK - 28 Oct 2019

A visiting professor at Kingston University has taken the BBC to an employment tribunal in central London over alleged unequal pay.

Broadcast presenter Samira Ahmed, 51, who often guest-lectures for the journalism course at KU, claims that she was paid £440 to present each episode of Newswatch while her male colleague Jeremy Vine was paid £3,000 per episode to present Points of View.

On October 28, the first day of the tribunal, Ahmed said: “I have a sense of pride working for a public service broadcaster which seeks to represent the diversity of Britain and its licence fee payers.

“I just ask why the BBC thinks I am worth only a sixth of the value of the work of a man for doing a very similar job.”

Ahmed, who started presenting the show in 2012, is claiming £693,245 from the corporation because of the alleged similarity between the two programmes.

Over the week-long tribunal, Ahmed argued that both presenter-led programmes are similar as they are just under 15 minutes long, take audience feedback into account and give the public the chance to voice their opinions on content produced by the BBC.

In a statement released by the BBC ahead of the tribunal, it said that the BBC was “committed to equal pay”.

“Points of View is an entertainment programme with a long history and is a household name with the public. Newswatch – while an important programme – isn’t,” the statement read.

“Samira was paid the same as her male predecessor when she began presenting Newswatch. Gender has not been a factor in levels of pay for Points of View. News and entertainment are very different markets and pay across the media industry reflects this.”

During the tribunal, BBC lawyers won an interim reporting order which prohibited the publication of the names of other women who had criticised the corporation over a lack of equal pay in 2017, and who had not yet been publicly identified.

The tribunal has now concluded with a reserved judgement, which will be announced at a later date.

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