Kate Adie: BBC employs women for their looks not skill

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The Independent Online

The BBC reporter Kate Adie has accused her employers of employing women just on the basis of their looks rather than their professional skills.

Adie said: "They just want people with cute faces and cute bottoms and nothing much else in between."

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, Adie responded to a question about "dumbing down" by saying that news was being sensationalised to try to increase ratings.

The BBC has several women journalists covering the Afghan conflict including Jacky Rowland and Kate Clark, the BBC's correspondent for the area who was ordered to leave by the Taliban.

For such a high-profile figure, Adie's role during the war has been notably low-key.

Adie, 56, who described herself as an "old-fashioned old trout", said television had moved towards a culture of celebrity and away from more expensive coverage of high culture.

Her comments follow similar criticisms of news broadcasting by another previous BBC big-hitter Martin Bell, the former war correspondent and MP who said last week that the editors of the Six O'Clock News had "much to answer for".

Bell also alleged that Kate Adie had been "sidelined" but saved his greatest criticisms for his former employers' rival ITN. He accused the commercial broadcaster of "retreating from foreign news".

Responding to Adie's remarks, a BBC spokesman said: "It's not a picture of the BBC that we recognise. The BBC employs male and female journalists on the basis of their skills not their looks."