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10 Jan, 2020 18:45

Samira Ahmed’s win in sex-based equal pay claim from BBC opens a can of worms for an industry that works on name recognition

Samira Ahmed’s win in sex-based equal pay claim from BBC opens a can of worms for an industry that works on name recognition

BBC's Samira Ahmed earned her chops in journalism after a good education and a string of challenging jobs. But now she's won a sex equality claim for being paid less than a male counterpart – and something is off about the case.

Part of the disturbance is the really unseemly discussion of the huge salaries that the people who work for the BBC earn, when that money pouring into their bank accounts actually comes from the licence payers who fund the national broadcaster.

Whether Ahmed is paid £440 per episode for Newswatch, or Jeremy Vine earns £3,000 per episode of Points of View makes no difference to an unemployed single mother in Hull. It's simply a tremendous amount of money for reading from an autocue on a programme which they help to fund.

Meanwhile, if the viewer hasn't stumped up the mandatory licence fee of £150 for the sheer pleasure of watching the BBC, they risk going to prison.

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So rather than moan about pay disparities, it would be a far better exercise to ensure that the BBC creates programmes delivering the best possible value for money by spending money there rather than on creating an assembly line of egos, all attempting to reach over their colleagues on the greasy pole of payslips.

Sure, I get the sexual discrimination argument and agree that if men and women are doing the same job, at Tesco for instance, then of course they should get the same salary.

But in the world of entertainment and celebrity, who's to say what value one ‘personality’ has over another? Should Dwayne Johnson's body double earn the same amount as he does from making a film?

Maybe the issue should be put to a phone-in. The question being, "Which name do you recognise from television: Samira Ahmed or Jeremy Vine?"

I would stick my neck out here that Vine would top that poll and it has nothing to do with gender.

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While Ahmed's journalism career has taken her around the world, it has not given her the same name recognition that Jeremy Vine, who also began in journalism, has developed since he shifted career somewhat into light entertainment.

The BBC's bonkers argument that Points of View required someone with a "glint in their eye" was nonsense from the start but maybe they just didn't want to offend Samira Ahmed by telling her that those people who did not watch BBC news programmes would have no idea who she was.

Anyway, that's not how the judge saw it and decided in her favor. As for the claim for £700,000 in back-pay, that's still up for decision.

Ironically, if a profile boost was needed, then this tribunal case has been a real shot in the arm for Samira Ahmed's career.

The sky is now the limit!

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.