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Number of female TV directors decreasing

THE GENDER gap between television programme directors in Britain is widening, despite women making up a third of the workforce, a report by Directors UK has found.

The study of 47,444 episodes from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 shows that the number of episodes directed by women fell from 27 per cent to 24 per cent between 2013 and 2016.

Just one in four programmes broadcast in that period was directed by a woman.

Channel 4 saw a 5.4 per cent decline, while at Channel 5 the proportion fell by 2.9 per cent and at the BBC and ITV there was a 1.8 and 1.5 per cent decline respectively.

A spokeswoman for media and entertainment union Bectu said the finding were very disappointing.

“We have a great industry, but it would be greater still if it really worked to include all the talents — women and black, Asian and minority ethnic — and to reward them justly,” she said.

“The time for equality is now. Let's have braver commissioning decisions and a genuine search for fresh talent ready to do the job.”

Factual programming across the broadcasters showed the most significant decrease in female directors, which was down by 10 per cent, while children's TV had a fall of 5 per cent.

Directors UK is calling for broadcasters to commit 0.25 per cent of their commissioning spend for all programme-making to fund industry access schemes to close the gap.

They also want Ofcom to make it mandatory for all broadcasters to monitor and publicly report the diversity of those making programmes and to set broadcasters targets to use production crews reflecting the demographics of the British population.

Directors UK board member Toral Dixit said: “It is not acceptable that women make up one-third of working directors in the UK but only direct one in four television programmes.

“To generate a shift towards gender equality, broadcasters must embrace positive interventions across all genres and deliver fair and transparent hiring practices for both freelancers and staff.”

The study did find an increase in female directors on multi-camera and entertainment programmes and in drama and comedy, where there have been targeted career development initiatives.

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