Saga Of Missing BBC News Channel Presenters Continues: Five Women Face “Ignominy” Of Reapplying For Jobs After Being Benched For Nine Months

TV

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC‘s protracted stand-off with five seasoned female news channel presenters has taken another twist after the women were asked to reapply for their jobs for a second time.

Martine Croxall, Karin Giannone, Geeta Guru-Murthy, Kasia Madera, and Annita McVeigh have not been on BBC News for more than nine months amid a dispute over their future.

The women were not successful last year in landing one of five UK-based chief presenter roles on the relaunched news channel, but they later complained about the fairness of the recruitment process.

Several sources said BBC News has now invited the women to reapply for two chief presenter roles: one opened up by Yalda Hakim’s defection to Sky News and another newly-created position.

If they are unsuccessful, the news anchors are likely to be offered a correspondent/presenter role, though this would be considered a demotion for the experienced anchors.

Some people have accused the BBC of trying to “divide and conquer” the presenters, who have been steadfastly united in their dispute with the corporation.

The two sides are said to have differing views on whether another recruitment process is necessary. A BBC source insisted that HR processes have to be followed and jobs are not gifted to people. Others argued that the women are at risk of redundancy and should be redeployed into vacancies in a way that is agreeable to all involved.

Insiders said it was not clear if all the women would reapply amid concerns about having to go through another “ignominious” recruitment process for roles they previously applied for in 2022.

The presenters, who have more than 100 years of experience at the BBC between them, must complete application forms and submit showreels to be considered. Meanwhile, less experienced presenters have been covering their roles while they have been sidelined, with some saying that this has led to an increase in mistakes on air.

“The fact they are being made to go through this process after such a year is being viewed by many of us in the newsroom with disbelief, when their skills and abilities are well known, and they are urgently needed back on air,” said a BBC News staffer.

Breakdown In Trust

Another major issue is a lack of trust in BBC hiring procedures. The women complained about the original 2022 process, arguing that managers predetermined a line-up of chief presenters before formal hiring began.

The matter was investigated by the BBC, with HR executive Daryl Maitland concluding that no one was promised a job despite a successful candidate saying they had a “tap on the shoulder” from managers.

Three sources claimed that this “whistleblower” evidence was not referenced in Maitland’s conclusions. “It was a sham investigation into a sham recruitment process,” said one person familiar with the matter.

As the impasse has dragged into a second year, there are estimates that the BBC has spent as much as £1M ($1.3M) on the anchors’ salaries, freelance cover, and acting-up pay while they have been off air.

BBC News presenters Martine Croxall, Karin Giannone, Geeta Guru-Murthy, Kasia Madera, and Annita McVeigh

In an email obtained by Deadline last week, BBC News deputy CEO Jonathan Munro said money would be tight in 2024 after significant funds had been committed to elections, wars, and sports events.

Critics have been alarmed that the BBC presenters in limbo are all women over the age of 45. Some of those affected have campaigned for equal pay or have been union representatives.

The presenters have enjoyed the support of many in the BBC newsroom, though there has been a growing feeling in recent months that news channel staff would like the situation to be resolved.

Tim Davie, the BBC director general, was grilled about the situation last June by UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. John Nicolson, a lawmaker for the Scottish National Party, said it was “absurd” and it looked as if the BBC was punishing the presenters.

In reference to freelancers covering presenter shifts, Davie said: “You never want to be in a position where you are wasting public money.”

The BBC declined to comment on HR matters. Croxall, Giannone, Guru-Murthy, Madera, and McVeigh have been contacted for comment.

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