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LONDON – The BBC has pledged to put more older women into prominent on-screen roles, after admitting it had a case to answer about the lack of female presenters.
In an article in the Daily Mail, BBC director general Mark Thompson wrote that the BBC had too few female presenters – especially in senior news and current affairs roles. He said the BBC would have to begin changing the culture internally.
“Let’s not mince words – those who say the BBC has a case to answer about the way it treats its older women are right,” he wrote in the paper.
“There are manifestly too few older women broadcasters on the BBC,” he admitted. He went on to argue that the BBC nonetheless has a plethora of senior women in management and executive roles.
Thompson went on to say that the issue went industry-wide and that on British television and media in general, “older women are chiefly notable by their absence.”
But he pledged that as a national broadcaster funded by the public, “the BBC is in a different class from everyone else” and would have to improve.
The BBC has faces a barrage of complaints in recent years about popular senior women being taken off screen. Newsreader Moira Stewart, Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips and Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly are just some examples.
O’Reilly took the BBC to an employment tribunal, accusing it of age-discrimination. Thompson said the case had been a “wake-up call.”
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