But in public-service broadcasting, where the staff are all civil servants, public-sector workers, where there are non-commercial obligations and objectives, how about - for example - paying salaries to attract enthusiastic young people just starting out on their glittering careers? Youth unemployment is an issue for the public sector, and a lot of youngsters want to "break in" (think about that phrase) to broadcasting and the media. It would be an appropriate use of public money, surely, to give them a chance?
The "stars", if they are "stars", would go off and find their own levels - by which of course I mean: no doubt they would go off and find huge salaries - elsewhere, and we'd have new talent to entertain and inform us. We talk excitedly about innovation in other fields - new technologies, new music, fashion, films, books, games, robots, scientific discoveries - but in broadcasting, we watch the familiar faces get older, and older, and older...
Alternatively, given that we're talking about public-sector workers, maybe we should be paying salaries to attract the top talent in nursing, teaching, the emergency services. If that's really the logic. Or are there jobs that people do because they feel a vocation, or perhaps a mission to explain, so they don't have to be paid much? Like, for example, broadcasting?
Setting aside any suggestion of inequality, unfairness, sheer absurdity, my problem is that I don't understand how gender pay gaps happen. I've heard - but don't entirely believe - suggestions that women are less assertive than men in asking for more money. I know that words including "pregnancy" and "baby" and "maternity leave" and occasionally even "career break" can sometimes appear in conversations of this nature, but really ... no. Career people are career people. Life's full of life-events. People are either good at what they do, and worth paying, or they're not.
The clincher in this case - which surely makes it completely inexplicable - is that the BBC's top women are high-performing career women whose pay negotiations would typically be conducted through agents. I'm pretty sure that careers aren't a progression any more, either. You don't join as an apprentice and work your way up through the pay reviews to the boardroom (so that a pregnancy-induced absence, say, might entail missing a pay rise). Life isn't like that these days.
The BBC gender pay gap is inexplicable. We can see - hear - for ourselves that these women do the same jobs to the same standards as their male colleagues. They're all skilled readers of autocues. Surely the men deserve to be paid the same as the women?