Friday 20 April 2018

BBC to seek gender balance in expert contributors

The corporation wants an even number of male and female experts by 2019.

BBC annual plan
BBC annual plan

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

The BBC has said it is working to ensure there it has an equal number of male and female experts across its programmes by April 2019.

The broadcaster said it is seeking to guarantee there is a 50:50 split in the expert contributors featured on its news, current affairs and topical programmes.

The corporation stressed it will continue to interview the relevant minister, official, or organisational representative appropriate to a story because they are the individuals in charge or are accountable, adding this concept is focused on the experts used to comment or report on events.

The gender balance of those contributors will be monitored on a monthly basis.

It has already disclosed the BBC has a median gender pay gap of 9.3% and pledged to increase the number of women on screen, on air and in lead roles to 50% in 2020.

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The challenge to achieve a 50:50 gender balance has already been adopted by a number of BBC programmes.

News show Outside Source, which is simulcast on the BBC news channel and BBC world news, has already achieved a 50:50 gender split after it adopted the system of self monitoring in January 2017.

By April the programme was featuring an even number of men and women.

The challenge has already expanded to more than 80 programmes including The One Show and BBC News at Six and Ten.

The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One and Radio 4’s File on 4 have seen a rise of more than 10% in expert female contributors and reporters since recording their figures, the broadcaster said.

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The Andrew Marr Show

Lord Tony Hall, the BBC Director General, said: “This is a fantastic project that is already driving change.

“The results from programmes that have taken it up have been remarkable.

“Adopting it more widely will help transform the range of expert voices across the BBC.”

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BBC gender pay gap

Fran Unsworth, director of news, added: “We are starting to see a real transformation across the BBC.  But we want to go further and faster.

“The success already delivered demonstrates the desire and commitment of BBC teams to lead the way on this important issue.

“That’s why, the BBC is now setting the challenge of all programmes – on both radio and TV – that use expert contributors, to meet a 50/50 split of contributors by April 2019.

“The BBC will produce report on the progress at that time. We can and are delivering change. The BBC is happy to share its experience of this project with other broadcasters and news organisations who might want to adopt a similar approach.”

Some programmes which already have a focus on gender will not be expected to achieve a 50:50 balance because of the very nature of the programme’s editorial remit.

Ros Atkins, presenter of Outside Source, said: “When Outside Source started this project the aim was to further improve the quality of our programme and bring fresh and engaging expert contributors to our audiences.

“I’m delighted that other teams across the BBC are just as passionate about this as I am and we’ve seen fantastic results from those already adopting the monthly monitoring approach so far.

“The ambition is to reach many more teams with the 50:50 challenge and ensure we have a strong network of contacts so we can increase the representation of expert female contributors on air.”

Press Association

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