One of the messiest aspects of the merger of the two BBC News channels last year could be resolved, according to a report by The Sunday Times.
Five female news presenters – Martine Croxall, Karin Giannone, Geeta Guru-Murthy, Kasia Madera and Annita McVeigh – were taken off air last spring, having lost out on new positions on the newly merged BBC News service.
The newspaper says the BBC could be soon offering them new roles, to avoid any legal action.
The changes to BBC News in April 2023 resulted in most of the former BBC World News daytime and evening presenter line-up being retained. Presenters on the old domestic service lost out, although both Jane Hill and Ben Brown secured presenting duties on BBC One.
The farcical situation has resulted in the BBC paying the five presenters their full salary, while trying to cut costs in BBC News. At the same time, a number of presenter vacancies have become available.
The BBC has drafted in freelancers, such as the former Al Jazeera presenter Lauren Taylor. It has also recruited Kylie Pentelow, a former BBC regional presenter who rejoined the broadcaster in 2023 after raising her profile at ITV, moving from regional to national news presentation.
It’s not the first time the BBC has been accused of sidelining older female presenters. Back in 2009, addressing concerns that women of a certain age were being pushed out of broadcasting, Fiona Armstong was recruited to present bulletins on the BBC News Channel.
Armstrong later said the move was a ‘token gesture by the BBC’ after it emerged she had only been offered 30 days a year to cover for other presenters.
This time, the five presenters have stood together and have the support of the NUJ and many viewers. The Sunday Times reports that the BBC is preparing to complete a ‘reverse ferret’ to avoid legal action and disastrous PR.
An insider is quoted as confirming that the BBC is in fact short of presenters and that a number of on-screen roles will be created this year in the run-up to the election.
The BBC has recently lost three high-profile presenters:
- George Alagiah, former presenter of the BBC News at Six, who died in 2023.
- Yalda Hakim, who was moved to the evening news slot on BBC News, departed for Sky News in the autumn.
- Suspended BBC News at Ten presenter Huw Edwards is not expected to return, with Clive Myrie tipped to succeed Edwards, in turn creating a vacancy elsewhere in the organisation.
The BBC has refused to comment on The Sunday Times report. And none of the affected presenters issued any comment and would be not expected to do so while HR processes are carried out.
PICTURED: image of presenters Kasia Madera, Geeta Guru-Murthy, Annita McVeigh, Karin Giannone and Martine Croxall posted by the presenters on social media. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.