Men have been reduced to sperm donors, says Buerk

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The Independent Online

The former Nine O'Clock News presenter, who now reads the news on BBC World, also said that the "shift in the balance of power between the sexes" has gone too far, saying that "life is now lived in accordance with women's rules".

Buerk, who was promoting a new channel Five series, said that when he started making the programme he saw that changes that have taken place in modern society were reflected in his own experiences.

"Almost all the big jobs in broadcasting were held by women - the controllers of BBC 1 television and Radio 4 for example. These are the people who decide what we see and hear," he said in an interview with Radio Times.

At the time the programme was being made, the BBC 1 chief was Lorraine Heggessey, the channel's first female controller. She resigned in January after four years at the head of the channel.

Ms Heggessey was one of several female broadcasting executives who were promoted by the former director general Greg Dyke to senior BBC positions as part of a campaign to rid the corporation of its image as a network of middle-class white men. Others included the director of television, Jana Bennett, the BBC Radio director, Jenny Abramsky, the head of entertainment, Jane Lush, and the director of BBC News, Helen Boaden.

In October last year, another former director general, Alasdair Milne, sparked a furious response when he said that the dominance of female executives was to blame for too many "dumb, dumb, dumb" lifestyle and makeover shows.

Ms Heggessey has been replaced as BBC 1 controller by a man, Peter Fincham, while Radio 4 is still run by Janice Hadlow.

Buerk said that social changes were not only felt at the BBC, and that the majority of middle management positions were held by women - a development which has "changed the nature of almost every aspect of the marketplace".

He continued: "Products are made for women, cars are made for women - because they control what is being bought.

"Look at the changes in the workplace. There is no manufacturing industry any more; there are no mines; few vital jobs require physical strength.

"What we have now are lots of jobs that require people skills and multi-tasking - which women are a lot better at."

Buerk spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent before becoming one of the main anchors on the BBC's flagship news programme, but he is still best-known for his reporting from the 1984 famine in Ethiopia.

In the interview, he said that typically male characteristics have been sidelined. "The traits that have traditionally been associated with men - reticence, stoicism, single-mindedness - have been marginalised," he said.

Buerk said that the result is that men are becoming more like women. "Look at the men who are being held up as sporting icons - David Beckham and, God forbid, Tim Henman," he said.

He admitted that some changes have been for the good, but asked: "What are the men left with?"

He said that, while men measure themselves in terms of their jobs, many traditionally male careers no longer exist.

"Men gauge themselves in terms of their career, but many of those have disappeared," he said.

"All they are is sperm donors, and most women aren't going to want an unemployable sperm donor loafing around and making the house look untidy. They are choosing not to have a male in the household."