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Tennis great Navratilova slams BBC over Wimbledon pay

Martina Navratilova said she was paid around £15,000 by the BBC for her role as a commentator at Wimbledon, but realised fellow presenter John McEnroe’s pay packet was between £150,000 and £199,999 © GETTY/AFP/File / Maddie Meyer

LONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 19 – Tennis great Martina Navratilova accused the BBC Monday of a “shocking” pay gap which saw her fellow Wimbledon pundit John McEnroe paid at least 10 times more than her.

Navratilova said she was paid around £15,000 ($20,900, 17,000 euros) by the BBC for her role as a commentator at Wimbledon, where she was crowned ladies’ champion nine times during her tennis career.

It wasn’t until the British broadcaster published the salaries of its highest-paid stars last July, in brackets of £50,000, that she realised fellow presenter McEnroe’s pay packet was between £150,000 and £199,999.

“Unless John McEnroe’s doing a whole bunch of stuff outside of Wimbledon he’s getting at least 10 times as much money”, Navratilova told the BBC’s Panorama programme.

The Czech-born American tennis star said she was told she was getting paid a comparable amount to men doing the same job.

“It’s shocking,” she told Panorama, adding: “It’s still the good old boys network…. The bottom line is that male voices are valued more than women’s voices.”

Responding to the allegations, the BBC said McEnroe’s contract is “entirely different” to Navratilova’s and the two are not comparable.

“Martina is one of a number of occasional contributors who is contracted to carry out a fixed volume of work and paid per appearance,” the BBC said in a statement.

“The BBC believes her pay reflects what she is asked to do, her time commitment, her level of broadcast experience, profile and track record and expertise,” the broadcaster added, denying gender was a factor.

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Navratilova worked for the BBC on 10 occasions during Wimbledon 2017, including three live match commentaries, whereas McEnroe was on call over the entire tournament and had a far greater workload according to the broadcaster.

The dispute is part of a broader gender pay row at the publicly-funded BBC after the salary disclosures last year.

Twelve of the top 14 were shown to be men, as were two-thirds of BBC staff earning more than £150,000.

A review commissioned by the BBC found a 6.8 percent gender pay gap, but “no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making”.

Six male BBC presenters voluntarily agreed to take wage cuts in January after the broadcaster’s female China editor quit in protest over unequal pay.

Carrie Gracie was on £135,000 a year as an international editor and since quitting her China role has been working for the BBC in London.

Comparatively, North America editor Jon Sopel earned £200,000 to £250,000 and was among the six to agree to a pay cut, while Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned £150,000 to £200,000.

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