Thinking outside the box

Lord Holmes

Last Tuesday I took part in the debate considering the report of the Lords Communications Committee on Women in News and Current Affairs Broadcasting. The report was excellent, not least as a result of the superb stewardship of the Committee Chair, Lord Best.

The picture painted by the report was not bright, a world far more reminiscent of Ron Burgundy than 21st Century Britain.  A world in which older women in particular find themselves at a severe disadvantage both on and off screen.

It seems to me a scandal that so many older women in TV still feel that work dries up when they get to a certain age or when they have children; there are some women who have said they have had to get a facelift to maintain their TV career beyond fifty. Recently Anne Robinson asked what chance a female version of Evan Davis would have of securing that prestigious role? Where are the female Dimblebys, John Simpsons, Alastair Stewarts or Adam Boultons? What sort of message does the lack of their female counterparts send out to young women contemplating a career in television journalism? If young women don’t think they can have a fulfilling career in television that talent will go elsewhere.

It’s a scandal that goes all the way to the top. Women, who make up half the viewers of television aren’t represented at board level at our major broadcasters in anything like the numbers they should be; the BBC executive board has two female executive directors, Channel 4 has one and that is it.

The lack of diversity is not just a question of gender, last year, out of the 62 directors at the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Ofcom, only one was non-white and none were disabled.

I welcome the fact that the industry itself has recognised that it has a problem and has committed to doing something about it; we have seen some ambitious plans published by BBC, Sky and C4.

With Lord Hall at the helm of the BBC and David Abrahams at Channel 4, we have reasons to be positive going forward.

However, this is not a new issue. Groups like Women in Film and Television, PACT, trade unions and Directors UK have been talking about this for decades and there has been very little movement. 

 That is why, in the debate, I called for two things:

Firstly, all the main broadcasters must end the practice of unpaid internships. This patronage is both rife and rigging the system in favour of those who are wealthy and connected rather than those who are talented.

This is not limited to the broadcast industry but the broadcast industry, if they addressed this could be a beacon of good practice and lead the way for the rest of our economy

Secondly, I asked broadcasters and producers to follow new guidance just produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission which I launched at the Edinburgh television festival two weeks ago

It is worth paying tribute to my Rt Hon friend Ed Vaizey who enabled this project to get underway, he has demonstrated sustained commitment to driving the diversity agenda since arriving at DCMS.

Entitled “Thinking outside the box”, the guidance was drawn up following extensive consultation with the industry, and provides clarity about the initiatives and practices that are permissible in law.

 It busts common myths about barriers that exist and provides a series of case studies from the sector to encourage broadcasters, independent production companies and industry bodies to make it easier to boost diversity.

Now we’ve produced this guidance, I believe there can be no more excuses for not taking meaningful action to improve the situation.  It is not just about doing the right thing, it is about getting the best creative and competitive edge.


5 comments for “Thinking outside the box

  1. MilesJSD
    22/09/2015 at 7:51 pm

    Analysing your situation
    especially with regard to ” the box”, “thinking”,

    and the (tanglesome) Topic area of
    “Broadcasting Women in News & Current Affairs”
    as comparable/contrastable with “Broadcasting Men,Children, and Others-than-Women, in News & C-A” .

    it is hotly publicly scrutinisable how Fit-for-Purpose
    [longest-term-future capital-P Purpose, not small p 5-year/100 years socio-mobility-politico-correct terms]
    the topic subjects are –

    and how-Fit-For-Purpose the various overarching-directors
    and the underpinning Workforce and Stakeholder people, are : –
    since overwhelmingly both the overarching and the underpinning stakeholders are locked-into literally “crippling” and “paralysing” the efficiency of both their individual selves and their public-service class-
    by their contemptuously continuous and blind over-consumption, of hugely multiple human-livings from the Environment and the Common Purse “inside the box”
    they have no hope, nor strategicly-sustainworthy credibility “outisde of the box”[*]

    {*] even if they had advanced effectively enough in the microskills and lifeplace abilities of All-Round-In-Depth Participatively-Democratic”Thinking inside the box” and especially to be “living a genericly-and emulably sustainworthy lifestyle “after hours”;-
    and thereupon to be sustainworthily discharging their workplace duty –

    {let me ‘give way';
    and I would like to offer a concluding short but expressly instantial submission on this Women in Broadcasting News & Current Affaits topic}

    • MilesJSD
      23/09/2015 at 7:25 pm

      Please think upon these things —

      and whilst thinking, why are the BBC
      and presumably all those influencing and supplying the BBC,
      not broadcasting such generic participative-democracy-establishing group workshops as
      1) the Guidelines and 5 -6 Steps of the Friendly First Resort ‘No-Lose’ Cooperative Problem Solving Methodology III” ? –
      2) any of the truly foundational individual and mutually-collective Somatics and Bodymind guidances:
      such as
      “The Busy Person’s Guide To Easier Movement” (Wildman);
      “Waking Up” (the Charlotte Selver essential human-foundation work);
      “Effoirt” (Laban & Lawrence): the only reliable all-roundenabling and balancing ‘encyclopaedia’ of Movement and focally of human-movement, in the world;

      There is a wonderful range of further new wholistic and sustainworthy wellbeing advances, which the “lowest” fortunate populations, of the world as well as of the United Kingdom, desperately need,
      and which not only for the huge quantity-numbers Need, but also the minority Leadership classes need as essential improvements to their exemplary quality of lifestyling, the Quality Need of all of the civilisation structure people ‘upwards’ and of the governing Top ‘above’ us all. –

      The latter demonstrative programmes need to be daily broadcasting these better ways both exemplarily and emulably,
      and should, I would say, be including the World’s best educative leaders,
      surely as well as all the Women who genuinely need to be better included in the better Broadcasting of Current Affairs.

  2. maude elwes
    24/09/2015 at 6:52 am

    I get so tired when I read and hear this constant hammering of male versus female augmentation. Why is such a line of lunacy followed so slavishly when it’s utter nonsense and those with one foot in reality know it so well. It’s simply a political rouse to circumvent or fool.

    First of all, which middle aged women are more likely to be sidestepped than middle aged men? Show me. Be specific. Certainly not on TV or in the newspapers, that’s for sure. The overwhelming presence of middle aged women, who somehow always insist on early morning cleavage, is an all consuming, in your face abnormality, we who are steeped in political correcteness simply cannot escape. Try as we might.

    However, middle aged men in the real world face far more discrimination than middle aged women. Middle aged women are cheaper, more grateful and pliable than middle aged men. Lets look at a couple of examples.

    These three witches make this show unbearable They try too hard to draw you in with age empowerment.

    Please show a programme of middle aged men who run shows like this and get away with it, so you can prove me wrong. You cannot go by the daily step you take to the House of Lords. That is a left over from the middle ages.

    What would be good for both male and female viewers would be a few good looking hunks, of any age, giving us the daily input of serious footage on present political events or public service, that would make it a serious viewing alternative. One that could truly draw you in.

    Why can’t they find men like this example to inspire real interest in what is going on around us?

    And you see, even when he hits that age bracket where the longing for his presence dwindles it becomes harder to find him, as it is with either sex. So, get off the mad woman band wagon and make real newsworthy threads to comment on. Rather than cling slavishly to a pretense of female victimisation we are all sick of.

    Talent is paramount, not a crazed observance to genitalia. Which, if used and abused the way it is now, in the end reduces us to fumbling contemtable idiots.

    • MilesJSD
      26/09/2015 at 6:40 pm

      The only remedy for this starved root of ‘sexiste’ Workplace-versus-Lifeplace “social-mobility” Difficulty
      languishes buried under many layers of politico media hype, not even “taught” by our univertsities.
      It is named, pehaps over-simply, Somatics.

      Our common bodymind Need is for urgent centre-staging, not of ‘Mindfulness’, but of this deeper-cinderella’d primary foundation of Somaticly-Wholistic-Awareness-&-Self-Balancing.

      Since 1950 Laban’s “Effort” has made it clear how movement-capability is a possible factor in choosing one person rather than another – more women are capable of Light+Flexible+Freeflowing+Quick movements than are most men; and most men are more capable of Firm+Direct+Bound+Sustained movements than are most women.

      The ‘new’ Somatics field,
      which surely has ‘co-opted’ “Effort” into its ‘constitutional-base’,
      has us self-helpfully following, first and foremost, all of our various, personal, and intimate, body-sensations,
      and differences therein;
      differences even within one ‘mini-sensation’ at a time, such as opening and closing a hand- the little finger will feel slightly different from the thunb for instance –
      – and they may both feel accompanied by feelingS from the wrist and other parts of the (your) body.

      Now, emotions also become more vital than ‘mind’, not only in the Lifeplace but in many Workplaces too; of which some rest within the Broadcasting and other media Services

      Instantially, the current USA movie “Scent Of A Woman” evokes much deep emotion, in the viewer-listener; even more ‘real’ emotion and as a here-and-now ‘life-experience’, than the British 75% lifeplace and 25% workplace can make available to us.

      Without radically improving our model and ‘pursuit’ of the progressively-wholisticly-healthy human being, the BBC, Society, Education, Work & Career Training, Religion, Health Services, and both all Workplace and Lifeplace-Associations & NGOs, will continue too-largely failing, making ‘raging-infernos’ of mere ‘smoke-rings’ such as this “What sort of worker is best suited to a position in New and Current Affairs Broadcasting ?”.

      You have to be egalitarianly including not only Women but Children,
      and the many ‘levels’ of the Impaired and the Disdabled,
      both in future planning participation and in ‘live-performance’;

      Now wouldn’t you agree ?

  3. maude elwes
    05/10/2015 at 7:19 am

    How about this for thinking outside the box on the issue of women and the game being played of victimisation.

    There is now a screaming neurosis thrown out relentlessly about this ethnic female doctor who attended footballers needs during ‘the beautiful game’ having now been fired. The idea being, they cannot do this, it is discrimination against women. Oh, is it? Well what about this then, women can refuse a male doctor because it makes them extremely uncomfortable being physically exposed to male examination, or, having to discuss intimate matters with them. No man can be expected to understand or be aware of the need women have for modesty in such an exposure of their body. Now tell me this, is this not an equality that men also have a right to expect? Do they have no sense of modesty or embarassment?

    Are men not supposed to feel any sense of shyness or reluctance to expose their concerns over intimate parts of their bodies or indeed their feelings on being forced to put up with blabbing their worries to a woman? Why is it any different for a man to want to have a masculine approach to his medical needs? And suffer subsequent abuse to the point where the chattering classes want to force on ‘him’ something they would object to strongly if forced on them.

    Equality, dear. This is such an important issue all politically correct voicers must adhere to, is it not? Therefore this female doctor should be more than happy to step back and allow the men to have the equal rights she expects, whether they be footballers or any other working guy.

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