E! is defending former E! News host Catt Sadler's salary, which she claims was nearly half that of her male co-host Jason Kennedy.
E! chief Frances Berwick confirmed a difference in salaries between Sadler and Kennedy during a Television Critics Association panel Tuesday, but attributed the pay gap to a difference in roles.
“Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy had different roles and therefore different salaries,” he said. “Catt was focused on daytime. Jason Kennedy is on primetime evening news, plus red carpet. Our employees' salaries are based on their roles and their expertise, regardless of gender. We wish Catt well, but I hope that sets the record straight on that.”
The defense echoes a statement the company provided to USA TODAY at the time of Sadler's pay gap claims in December.
“E! compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender," the statement reads. "We appreciate Catt Sadler's many contributions at E! News and wish her all the best following her decision to leave the network.”
Sadler, 43, cited the pay gap as her motivation for leaving the company in a lengthy post to her website in December.
"An executive from E brought something alarming to my attention namely, that there was a massive disparity in pay between my similarly situated male co-host and myself," she wrote. "More recently, when E reached out to renew and extend my deal, I learned that he wasn't just making a little more than I was. In fact, he was making close to double my salary for the past several years."
Berwick's comments come days after Debra Messing called out E! during an interview with the network on the Golden Globes red carpet Sunday.
"Time is up. We want diversity and we want intersectional gender parity. We want equal pay. You know, I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn't believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts," she told E!'s Giuliana Rancic. "I miss Catt Sadler, and we stand with her. And that's something that can change tomorrow."
Eva Longoria also mentioned Sadler during a red carpet interview with E!'s Ryan Seacrest.
"We support gender equity and equal pay, and we hope that E! follows that lead with Catt as well," she said. "We stand with you Catt."