Friday, March 27, 2009

Fern Britton Should Sue ITV Over Sex Discrimination

I am sure readers were as devastated as I was to learn that Fern Britton was leaving THIS MORNING. Not that I ever watch it, natch. However, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Fern. I think she is a genuinely talented presenter with a wicked sense of humour. She was also one of the few celebs able to hold their own on a QUESTION TIME panel.

One things bemuses me, though. According to newspaper reports she is paid £15k an episode to present MR & MRS, whereas Philip Schofield trousers three times that amount. Isn't that a clear case of sex discrimination? After all, they co-present the programme - neither is more integral than the other.

Why doesn't she sue ITV?


Plato said...

That's much more like it :)

Roger Thornhill said...

Was Morecambe worth more than Wise?

Laurel more than Hardy?

Actually, yes. If Phil was more difficult to secure, more likely to not do it and do something else, if the producers feel that Phil's loss would damage ratings more, then yes.

For Fern to sue would be a typical example of why the legislation is so dysfunctional.

Rob Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Grim Reaper said...

Iain, in case you haven't noticed, ITV made a loss of £2.7billion recently. Where are they gonna find the money?

Unknown said...

Is this a joke Iain?

The explanation for this is clear. He's worth more than she is. He's more popular with the public, presents more shows, and can command a greater salary.

I might think that Michelle Ryan is a better actress than Megan Fox, despite the fact that Megan Fox is physically perfect in every way. Yet Megan Fox commands a much higher salary.

I might argue that there are several political commentators better than you (I don't believe that, this is just an example, feel the love eh?!), yet you will command a higher fee for shows than they will.

The only way Fern Britton has a case for sex discrimination is if the sole reason for the pay disparity is because she's a woman. I don't believe that for a second.

Do you? Really?

Iain Dale said...

John, sadly you have no understanding of the law. The law does not have regard to "popularity". They are doing the same job. Therefore they should be paid the same.

Anonymous said...

Surely in the world of entertainment you get paid what people are willing to pay you - what people think you will add to the viewing figures.

if you get it wrong you lose your big star - or whoever thinks they are a big star.

Now I call that the free market.

But then I am not carrying a torch for Fern Britton


javelin said...

From what I understood their agents asked for those amounts. Fern should fire her agent.

Unknown said...

I believe they are both paid the same for This Morning. However, Philip Schofield has a deal under which he is paid £45k an episode for any prime time show such as Mr & Mrs. Fern Britton, on the other hand, has a deal as a daytime presenter, so her prime time rates are negotiated separately, resulting in this discrepancy.

The makers say they were working on a tight budget, which is why she got paid less. Perhaps they should have got someone cheaper than Schofield or run with him as the only presenter.

Conand said...

I'm not a great fan of daytime TV celeb presenters.
In my meeja days I did however have the pleasure of meeting Fern Britton. Oh darlings!! She was absolutely lovely, lovely, lovely. So warm and kind and not aloof at all. She's an A1 top lady. I also agree entirely about her QT performance.

Bob said...

Iain, from what I recall, they had different "headline" deal. One had an "exclusive" deal, and the other a "day time only" deal, or something like that.

That meant that when they did this extra Mr and Mrs thing that the terms for them to do that were different as the requirements contractually were different.

Really she should sack her agent for not getting a parity deal with her co-presenter.

Horlic said...

I guess Fern Britton love what she is doing. She works because of her interest not because of money.

Unknown said...

@Iain Dale
John, sadly you have no understanding of the law. The law does not have regard to "popularity". They are doing the same job. Therefore they should be paid the same.

Dang. As a training contract seeking recent law graduate, you'd have thought I would have learned a thing or two about things like this don't you? :(

You would be right with regards to office workers doing the same job for example, but that doesn't translate to the entertainment industry.

Say I booked two acts for an event. Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue. I give Michael Jackson £1 million and Kylie £500,000 for 10 minutes on stage each. By your argument, they both did the same job for the same amount of time, so Kylie could sue me for £500,000. She can't, and you know she can't.

The argument here is that Phillip Scofield is higher profile and is more popular and has more fans than Fern Britton. This is helped by the fact that he presents on higher profile shows like dancing with stars or something.

Therefore, this translates into him having more pulling power and attracting more interest. The terms of his contract reflect this.

This has nothing to do with gender, and if they replaced fern with Kylie Minogue, you can bet your bottom dollar that she would be earning FAR more than Scofield.

To give a closer to home example. Say both me and you did the Sky News paper review with whoever the sky presenter was. Would you really advocate that I be paid the same as you? No-one knows or cares who I am, yet you undoubtably bring FAR more viewers to that program than if it was just little old me. Your pay should therefore and absolutely will reflect this.

Louis Barfe said...

Maybe Fern should sign up with Phil's agent? If this were a conventional job, yes, the pay should be the same, but in entertainment, it comes down to bargaining power and who represents you. Some agents are more effective than others. I wouldn't read sexual discrimination into it without knowing the full background to the contract negotiations.

Paul Halsall said...

#15,000 for one program?

That's what's wrong with this country.

davidc said...

the grim reaper@ - ', ITV made a loss of £2.7billion recently. Where are they gonna find the money?'

print some more seems to be the popular solution

Roger Thornhill said...

Paul Hassal : #15,000 for one program? That's what's wrong with this country

Now try that argument with footballers.

Scratch that. You want everyone "paid the same" I suppose, or their wages determined by GOSPLAN.

Envy politics.

The Grim Reaper said...

davidc said "Print some more seems to be the popular solution."

Does Michael Grade have Mervyn King's phone number?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

"Equality" does not exist in the entertainment business, otherwise Lenny Henry would be on prime time a lot more. Wouldn't that be great?

I am told by a BBC insider that Arseholes were deemed to be under-represented on the main channels, so efforts were made to make sure the balance was redressed. It was felt that, although Jonathan Ross is openly an an Arsehole, it could be argued he was just a result of tokenism. Thankfully we now have a sphincterful of Arseholes in light entertainment. Gone are the bad old days when the BBC was "hideously" nice. Bravo BBC - you are worth ten times the licence fee.

Of course, I too was devastated beyond understanding at the Fern Cotton News as someone who keeps up with daytime TV.

Briantheship said...

"She was also one of the few celebs able to hold their own on a QUESTION TIME panel."

Dale, you sad plonker, which particular episode of Question Time
were you watching?

OBC News said...

£60k per EPISODE for presenters alone? No wonder ITV are in a hole.

Plato said...

Speaking of women who are being undervalued - what ever happened to that weird Jasmine Alibi-Brown video where she talked about being so scared that she did a Gordon?

Don't recall seeing a follow-up here or in the Grauniad.

Happy to be corrected if all those friendly goat-hands have affected my vision.

nostalgic said...

Frankly i coudnt give a toss = so-called celebs leave me cold=)

Unknown said...

Iain - I'm afraid it is your understanding of the law that is flawed, not John's. The Sex Discrimination Act specifically allows the employer to have differences between a man's contract and a woman's contract if the variation is due to a genuine material difference other than the difference in sex. So, if I employ an inexperienced man and an experienced woman to do the same job, I am entitled to pay the man less than the woman. As long as I can show that the difference in pay is due to experience, the man would not be able to sue me successfully under sex discrimination legislation.

So John is spot on. The fact that Philip Schofield brings in more viewers than Fern Britton is a material difference. The programme makers are therefore entitled to pay her less.

Brian said...

Perhaps Fern's contract was negotiated before the gastric band episode and the producers took into account the free buffet in the green room.

Paul said...

Fern's worth well more than Mr Talking Telephone Numbers. I'd definitely give her one. Pre-weight loss she was quite the MILF.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Paul, you may have to explain MILF.

Jim Baxter said...

MILF? Mother I'd Like to...


Paul said...


Richard Gadsden said...

The law's simple - equal pay for work of equal value.

So now you have to asses whether Schofield was of greater value than Britton.

Lawrence Wright said...

Yet another politician spouting their viewpoint without understanding the media industry, anybody else concerned by the impending Tory rule and its impact upon broadcasters and its business models?