The BBC Is Mounting Their Case Against Samira Ahmed As She Fights For Equal Pay
Someone has to step forward. For real change to happen, it takes someone putting their neck on the line — which is why Samira Ahmed and her gender discrimination case against the BBC deserves our attention.
In the midst of the Brexit and general election chaos, it’s important to remember that there is other impactful news happening that doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. And as Ahmed arrived at the central London tribunal this week, other BBC presenters have been standing with her. Naga Munchetty, Jane Garvey, Richard Coles, and Aasmah Mir have all made appearances at the tribunal case — a clear illustration of its gravity.
The basis of the case is simple — Ahmed was paid £440 an episode for presenting Newswatch from 2012, while Jeremy Vine was paid £3,000 an episode for presenting Points of View. Both shows feature audience feedback, both are very short. But the more you start to unpack it, the more ludicrous it becomes.
While many have argued that Vine is a bigger household name — which may certainly be true — the numbers don’t back up the idea of him being a larger draw for audiences. Firstly, Ahmed’s team has rightly pointed out that Newswatch attracts about 1.6 million combined viewers across the BBC News channel and BBC One – which is over double that of Points of View.
But then things get very strange indeed. The BBC argues that they are different types of programs — a fair enough point, to a degree. But the broadcaster is arguing that Points of VIew is an entertainment show, while Newswatch is a “serious programme, which deals with matters seriously”. In other words, Ahmed’s show is more serious, requires more expertise, gets twice as many viewers…. so it should pay less — 85 percent less.
It's 2019, & one of our most respected female TV presenters has to LITIGATE the BBC's 600% pay gap between her & a white male presenter of a comparable programme. I hope we will look back on these times in astonishment. Solidarity @SamiraAhmedUK https://t.co/VpMbziBoTd
— Afua Hirsch (@afuahirsch) October 28, 2019
The galling and completely counterintuitive nature of the BBC’s defense shows just how important it is that people like Ahmed have the courage to step forward. This type of twisted logic and sexism is allowed to float on behind the scenes, shaping entire news agencies, unless it’s dragged, kicking and screaming, into the light.
And its influence is already showing. Even as the trial continues, it has been reported that a slew of other gender discrimination cases are being brought against the BBC.
“We know that this is a case Samira did not want to bring,” a spokesperson for the BBC Women campaign group said. “BBC managers had every opportunity to pay her equally for equal work in line with the law. We stand with Samira as she stands with so many of us facing similar battles.”
Keep watching — because Ahmed deserves our attention.