RTE needs more women presenters -- Miriam's hubby

EQUALITY: Head of programming Carson wants female stars

Claire Murphy

HIS wife may be RTE's most popular personality, but Steve Carson wants more women on TV.

Miriam O'Callaghan's husband has spoken out about the lack of women on air on the national broadcaster and in other media outlets.

In response to a question from Lucy Keaveney, an equality advocate, the editor of current affairs agreed that there was a clear gender imbalance in certain situations.


Ms Keaveney told Mr Carson that she switched off whenever she saw all-male panels on current affairs shows on RTE.

"I agree with you that there are not enough women on air," Mr Carson replied.

"I don't buy the argument that it's hard to find women."

Mr Carson (43) is certainly not afraid to tackle the difficult jobs. Earlier this year, he was given a hands-on role in the production of the programme his wife presents -- Prime Time.

This was during the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's inquiry into the defamation of Fr Kevin Reynolds.

Mr Carson continued in his current post as head of TV programming, while substituting for Ken O'Shea who stepped aside from the position pending the findings.

The new managing director of News and Current Affairs is Kevin Bakhurst, who will take up his role today.

Mr Bakhurst, who joins RTE from the BBC, will commute home some weekends to his wife and family in the UK.

But RTE have confirmed that this travel expense will not be picked up by the taxpayer.

Mr Carson was speaking about gender and age issues at the conference marking the 50th anniversary of RTE television at University College Cork.

There, he rejected suggestions that there were few people in their 20s represented on screen. He said that the redundancy programme rolled out by the station meant that the experience of older staff was regrettably lost, but that production crews included all ages.

Earlier Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said that he was not inclined to push up the price of the TV licence.

And he said that traditional media outlets needed to find a solution to the challenge of digital media advertising.

"It will not help to meet the marked challenges facing media policy if different sections of the broadcast and print media start to cannibalise each other rather than creatively responding to technological change."