Representation: the position of women in the media industries

Dolan, Josephine ORCID: 0000-0002-7669-9060 and Tincknell, Estella (2015) Representation: the position of women in the media industries. Discussion Paper. The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications Women in News and Current Affairs Broadcasting.

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SUMMARY Watching or listening to a news broadcast might give the impression that there are plenty of women involved in news and current affairs broadcasting. On the surface women appear to be well represented. However, a closer look at the statistics shows that, despite making up 51 per cent of the population and a larger proportion of the TV and radio audience, women are severely underrepresented both on and off air in news and current affairs broadcasting. A recent study showed that, in the UK, there were three male reporters on flagship news programmes for every female one. The situation is even worse for women as experts: in a 2010 study, women made up only 26 per cent of experts or commentators. We are particularly concerned about the representation of women in news and current affairs broadcasting because of the genre’s wide reach and role in shaping public perceptions about society. In our view, news and current affairs broadcasters have a particular responsibility to reflect society by ensuring a gender balance. This is especially incumbent on the BBC and other Public Service Broadcasters which receive statutory benefits. There are a number of obstacles to the progression of female employees in the industry. The fast-paced, responsive nature of news and current affairs broadcasting presents difficulties for those with caring responsibilities, largely women. Broadcasters could address this by doing more to promote flexible working. We were also told that sexist bullying still exists in the industry, and that older women in the sector have experienced particular discrimination. We have not been able to test fully all of these allegations, but condemn any such attitudes and practices. We urge broadcasters to take further steps to ensure they are eradicated. We also recommend that job and promotion opportunities are awarded on the basis of fair and open competition. We believe the current situation is unsatisfactory, and needs to be addressed. This cannot be done without a robust body of data. The current monitoring system, where data are not collected routinely or in comparable formats, is insufficient. Ofcom should require broadcasters to collect annual, comparable gender equality data on permanent and freelance staff, categorised by age, role and genre. Ofcom should also require broadcasters to set their own short, medium and long term targets for the use of experts, which should be monitored. This proactive use of Ofcom’s powers should be reviewed in one year. If the situation has not improved, Ofcom should consider delegating its powers to promote gender equality to a new body with this as its focus. Gone are the days when women were seldom heard or seen in news and current affairs broadcasts. Nevertheless, in this era of equality we were surprised and disappointed at how much further broadcasters, Ofcom and the Government have to go to achieve genuine gender balance.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Additional Information: HL Paper 91
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1992-1992.92 Television Broadcasts
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2020 12:47
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:52

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