BBC targets 50/50 gender split in one year

BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow. Pic by John  Devlin
BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow. Pic by John Devlin
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The BBC has declared it is working to guarantee an equal number of male and female experts across its programmes by April next year.

The broadcaster said it was seeking to make sure there was a 50/50 split in the expert contributors featured on its news, current affairs and topical programmes.

The corporation stressed it would continue to interview the relevant minister, official or organisational representative appropriate to a story because they were the individuals in charge or accountable.

The BBC added this concept was focused on the experts used to comment or report on events. The gender balance of contributors will be monitored on a monthly basis.

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

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 last year. The programme was featuring an even number of men and women by April 2017.

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 experienced a rise of more than 10 per cent in expert female contributors and reporters since recording their figures, the broadcaster said.

BBC director general Lord Tony Hall 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.”

Six of the BBC’s leading male presenters, including Jeremy Vine, Huw Edwards and Nicky Campbell, agreed to take pay cuts in January after revelations over equal salaries.

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 reports 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.”

The Telegraph Media Group (TMG), which prints The Daily Telegraph, has the biggest reported gender pay gap of any UK publisher or broadcaster to date, with women being paid 35 per cent less than men on average.