The BBC is “deeply disappointed” with an air of cat in which two of its presenters joked about the gender pay gap, a company source said.
BBC Radio 4, Today presenter Humphrys and North America editor Jon Sopel were discussing Carrie Gracie, who a few hours earlier and had stopped smoking on wages.
Before Monday, The Sun and the Times has reported, it is pleasant to “surrender” to pay to keep Ms Gracie as China editor.
A spokesman for the BBC said the presenter regrets the “ill-advised” conversation.
A source at the BBC, said management was “deeply disappointed” by the unaired discussion, which took place before a pre-recorded interview on Monday morning’s edition of Today.
In an open letter the night before, Ms Gracie had accused the company of having a “secret and illegal to pay for culture.”
Speaking to the Radio 4 studio, Mr Humphrys could have asked Mr. Sopel on the amount of your salary that you are ready to hand over to Carrie Gracie for keeping it.”
He then made reference to “other men who earn too much” to the BBC.
Mr. Sopel is understood to have replied that “if we speak of the scope of the more redistribution, I’m going to go back and say, well, yes, Mr Humphrys”.
The presenter is then reported to have uttered a profanity and said he was “still left with more than [pay] someone else”.
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Miriam O’reilly, who won an ageism case against the BBC in 2011, after the fall of Countryfile, described the exchange as “basic, haughty and condescending”.
Claiming to have heard a recording of the conversation, Ms O’reilly said that the attitude of slapping titled men”.
A spokesman for the BBC said: “It was an ill-advised off-the-air in a conversation that the presenter of regret.
“The BBC undertakes to obtain from its compensation structures, and, as we have said, we do a complete analysis of presenter pay,” she adds.
Deputy Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has asked in a tweet if Mr. Humphrys would not be permitted to submit stories on the question of impartiality.
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Earlier this week, the presenter Winifred Robinson, who had tweeted support for Ms Gracie – was taken off the air, while the Woman’s Hour Jane Garvey has said she has been unable to conduct an interview with Ms. Gracie for the show.
“So, is John Humphrys now forbidden to present stories on the BBC remuneration between men and women question,” she said.