The BBC is having a bad week and decided to hit back. With all the usual self-deprecating British humor, of course.
Gender Inequality Accusations
The women of the BBC are furious. Apparently, reports released earlier this week claimed that the corporation found no evidence of gender discrimination in salaries. According to The Guardian, a group of over 170 female presenters and producers for the BBC are protesting.
Last summer saw the revelation that two-thirds of the networks’ highest paid stars were men. Consequently, they’re demanding back pay and accusing the corporation of breaking pay equality laws.
Tumbling Revenues from Licenses
And that’s just the tip of the Beeb’s problems. The publicly supported corporation is losing revenue. According to The Sun, 3.5 million people in the U.K. have canceled their television licenses. Because they favor streaming services like Netflix.
License fees support the network. And much like PBS in the U.S., it presents no commercials to generate revenue. By law, British citizens who watch network programming must purchase a TV license. As a result, fewer licenses mean less money to pay salaries.
The Beeb finally has a rebuttal for these accusations of pay inequality. BBC Two shared their response on Twitter.
(Please note, there is “language” in their rebuttal.)
— BBC Two (@BBCTwo) February 1, 2018
Arguments for Privatization
Some Brits are saying the fee should be dropped entirely. As a result, some Tory Members of Parliament are making it a political issue, saying that the corporation is suffering because citizens are becoming more conservative.
One conservative MP says they’re unwilling to support the network’s more liberal editorial stance. Additionally, the Tory party continues to push for privatization in favor of government services.
But the television-viewing trend is similar to the U.S. Many American cable subscribers have canceled cable and satellite services. This is in favor of streaming entertainment. Rather than politics, or even content, economics might be the reason for both.
Crunching the Numbers
The issue may be less “political leanings” and more financial hardship. Austerity programs in the U.K. have hit women hard. According to figures from 2016, women are bearing 86 percent of the burden for the Tory austerity measures. Most noteworthy, budget cuts are hitting women twice as hard as they are men.
A television license is currently £147, or about $208 a year. Netflix streaming is currently only £7.99 per month. That’s £95.88 a year, or about $135. Therefore, Netflix is much cheaper for those on a budget. And most of all, it’s easier to maintain when paid monthly.
And as the BBC Two video admits: You can still get David Attenborough on Netflix.
The BBC is known for high-quality programming, and it sells many of its programs overseas. So, it’s uncertain whether those falling license fees compare to the huge gender gaps in network salaries.
The network’s media center reports that BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s monetizing arm, made a profit of £989 million over the last five years. Some number crunching reveals nearly £475 million delivered in profits. It seems like this should have tightened the gap nicely.
But nice try, anyway, BBC Two.