Navratilova accuses BBC of unequal pay

By Alex Butler  |  March 19, 2018 at 5:20 PM
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March 19 (UPI) -- Tennis legend-turned commentator Martina Navratilova revealed in an interview with the BBC that the network pays her 10 times less than it pays John McEnroe.

"It's hard to really compare exactly, because some people work a little longer days, maybe a few more programs, whatever," Navratilova said in an interview with BBC Panorama. "But overall, it was a shock because John McEnroe makes at least £150,000 [$210,438] ... I get about £15,000 [$21,039] for Wimbledon. And unless John McEnroe's doing a whole bunch of stuff outside of Wimbledon, he's getting at least 10 times as much money than I am for very comparable work. So yeah, at the moment that's what I know."

Navratilova said she wasn't happy about it and called the assessment "shocking."

"For me it's a part-time job," Navratilova said. "It's two weeks of my life, but for the women that work there full-time, maybe the discrepancy's not that large, but it adds up over a lifetime. It adds up to an amazing amount of money.

"So it's extremely unfair and you know it makes me angry for the other women that I think go through this."

Navratilova said she asked the network if she earned a comparable amount to a man for a similar job. She said the BBC told her yes.

"We were not told the truth, that's for sure," she said.

The BBC issued a statement after Navratilova's comments.

"We're incredibly proud of the whole team who present our Wimbledon coverage," the statement said.

"John and Martina perform different roles in the team, and John's role is of a different scale, scope and time commitment."

"Martina is one of a number of occasional contributors who is contracted to carry out a fixed volume of work and paid per appearances. 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. At Wimbledon 2017 her work amounted to three live match commentaries, four highlights appearances, one short video and two other short studio appearances. Beyond this she has no contractural commitment to the BBC."

"Our contract with John is entirely different. John is contracted to be on call for the BBC across the entire 13 days of the tournament, subject to a commitment with one U.S. broadcaster. And is on air every day. He worked on live match commentaries on 12 of the 13 days along with highlights programs, opening links, regular study pieces with Sue Barker, studio alaysis, filled sequences and 606 programs for BBC Radio 5, as well as publicity work."

"Along with Sue Barker, John is regarded as the face of our Wimbledon coverage. He is a defining voice within the BBC's coverage. He is weedily considered to be the best expert/commentator in the sport, highly valued by our audiences and his contract means he cannot work for another U.K. broadcaster without our permission. His pay reflects all of this; gender isn't a factor."

The BBC revealed its top earners last year, listing McEnroe in the $210,438 to $280,582 salary bracket.

Wimbledon 2018 is set for July 2 through July 15 at the All England Club in London. McEnroe and Navratilova each retired in 2006. In 2007, Wimbledon became the last Grand Slam to offer equal prize money to its competitors.

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