The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications has launched an inquiry into women in news and current affairs broadcasting.
Are women properly represented in news and current affairs broadcasting? What legal and regulatory obligations affect broadcasters in relation to gender balance in this genre? What, if anything, are broadcasters doing voluntarily to try to achieve gender equality? Does any other country do it better?
The Committee's Chairman, Lord Best, said:
“There are a number of studies that are painting a picture of concern about how women are represented in news and current affairs broadcasting. It has been said, for example, that, in a typical month, 72% of Question Time contributors are men, as are 84% of reporters and guests on Radio 4’s Today programme.
And the case has been made to us that the statistics regarding the number of women working in public-facing, behind-the-scenes and editorial roles in the same areas are similarly skewed. There are also particular issues with the employment of women and age: while TV presenters under 50 years of age broadly mirror the population’s gender balance, women are significantly under-represented amongst TV presenters over the age of 50.
However, we appreciate that this issue is not likely to be as straightforward as might appear at first glance. There are likely to be far more nuanced perspectives on the urgency and practicalities of the problem, and we would therefore encourage people or organisations with relevant experience or expertise to submit evidence to the inquiry.”
Issues for consideration
Issues the Committee will be considering within the course of this inquiry, include:
- What does the data and academic research on women involved in news and current affairs broadcasting tell us?
- What legal and regulatory obligations already exist to address any issue and, if so, are those measures effective?
- What is the industry doing to address the issue, and what else might it appropriately do?
- When participants in news and current affairs broadcasting are chosen on “merit”, what constitutes “merit” and does this appropriately reflect the levels of female expertise in society?
- Is the position in the UK better or worse than in other countries?
Written evidence must be submitted by midday on Wednesday 1 October 2014.