Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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What about Snoddy’s shoddy treatment, Samira?


THE Conservative Woman demands justice for Raymond Snoddy. To which the most common response will be: Raymond who?

Today we champion the cause of journalist and broadcaster Matthew Raymond Snoddy. Usually known by his middle name, Ray was the original host of Newswatch, the short programme offering a right of reply regarding BBC news coverage, which began in 2004 on the Beeb’s 24-hour news channel.

Raymond remained in situ until early 2013. During the first few years of Snoddy’s stint on Newswatch, on terrestrial BBC One the long-running Points of View was fronted by television titan Terry Wogan. Snoddy has not asked TCW to intervene on his behalf; nonetheless, we have reason to suppose that during the noughties Wogan’s wage for presenting Points of View was much more generous than Ray’s reward for hosting Newswatch.

Okay, Snoddy’s show lurked in a broadcasting backwater while Points of View was transmitted on the main BBC channel and featured the Corporation’s colossus. However, on Ray’s behalf we contend that Newswatch and Points of View are both presenter-led programmes lasting about 15 minutes that offer the public the opportunity to air their views on BBC content, therefore in our eyes Raymond Snoddy was equivalent to Terry Wogan and palpably had a right to equal pay for equal work.

Ridiculous, you say? This is exactly the case currently being put forward at an employment tribunal by Snoddy’s successor on Newswatch, Samira Ahmed. Ms Ahmed took over the role on the same pay as her predecessor; however, she now regards being bracketed with Ray Snoddy as an insult. Supported by the National Union of Journalists, Ahmed arbitrarily argues that during the past seven years she should instead have had pay parity with Points of View presenter Jeremy Vine and now seeks recompense.

It is reported that until he relinquished the role last year, Vine received up to £3,000 (latterly £1,300) for each edition of Points of View. For Newswatch, Ahmed’s award has varied between £440 and £465, prompting her to complain: ‘I just ask why the BBC thinks I am worth only a sixth of the value of the work of a man for doing a very similar job.’

The answer, of course, is that for every six people who recognise Jeremy Vine, it would be a surprise if more than one could identify Samira Ahmed. Regardless of their respective abilities, Vine has a public profile that accords him a much more varied choice of work and far greater bargaining power.

In its defence the BBC accurately distinguishes between the two programmes: ‘Points of View is an entertainment programme with a long history and is a household name with the public. Newswatch – while an important programme – isn’t. Samira was paid the same as her male predecessor when she began presenting Newswatch. Gender has not been a factor in levels of pay for Points of View. News and entertainment are very different markets and pay across the media industry reflects this.’ 

To bolster the case for Samira Ahmed, the NUJ claims: ‘The BBC One audience for Newswatch is 1.5-1.9million. Points of View has 800,000.’ However, this is a spurious slant: on the main channel, Newswatch is repeated on Saturday mornings during BBC Breakfast when accidentally it is seen by a captive audience; a truer measure of the genuine interest – or lack of it – in the show is that its initial evening broadcast on the news channel attracts only 100,000.

Incredibly, during the week before Ahmed’s tribunal case began, the masochistic BBC allowed her to guest host Radio 4’s Today programme, just as it had with a previous Corporation pay martyr, Carrie Gracie. Fancy a guest gig on the flagship show? Sue the BBC and it will acquiesce.

Inevitably, Carrie Gracie was amongst the usual suspects acting as cheerleaders for Samira Ahmed at the tribunal. Encouraged by Ahmed’s action, it is reported that at least a dozen other BBC women are set to lodge legal claims for vast sums of backdated pay.

It will be no surprise if licence fee-payers are soon funding backdated bonanzas for countless grasping gals at the BBC. Unable to claim gender discrimination, the forgotten Raymond Snoddy has no similar recourse. Perhaps he should retrospectively self-identify as a Raylene and join the Corporation’s covetous coven.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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