Incoming BBC news director promises action for more on-air female journalists

 

Media Editor

James Harding, the incoming Director of News at the BBC, has admitted his discomfort at the lack of women broadcasters on the BBC's bulletins and has promised to address the issue as a priority.

In an internal address to BBC staff, Mr Harding, the former editor of The Times, said that, as a newcomer to the BBC, he had been struck by the lack of female journalists in on-air roles. "I think that as an outsider there is clearly an issue about the number of female broadcasters - the number of broadcasters on air - that is one thing you do notice - and we're going to have do something determined about that," he said.

Mr Harding was answering questions from BBC Radio 4 presenter Justin Webb at the organisation's annual BBC News Festival event, where the organisation seeks to find ways to improve its news output. Asked by Webb if he could improve the representation of women on BBC news programmes, Harding responded: "We're going to have to do it…as a viewer and listener you're aware of it. And you think to yourself 'Hang on, the BBC can do better than that.' And we can." Asked if it was a priority issue, he said "I'm saying it's something important to do".

Tony Hall, who arrived at the BBC as Director-General at the start of last month(April), is already under pressure to make changes to rectify a gender imbalance across the organisation. The lack of female television presenters over the age of 50 has been highlighted in the news media this month. The BBC has also faced criticism over a shortfall of women interviewees in stories broadcast on its news programmes.

His fellow peer, Maurice Glasman, the founder of the Blue Labour political tendency and an adviser to party leader David Miliband, has called for licence fee payers and BBC staff to be allowed to elect members of the organisation's governing body, the BBC Trust.

In a speech to BBC journalists at New Broadcasting House in London, Lord Glasman said that allowing the BBC's employees and audiences to have a say in who governed the corporation would help to increase public trust. "The reality is that no one holds the BBC management to real account," said the peer of Lord Patten's BBC Trust, which is sometimes criticised for being a cheerleader for the BBC executive as well as its governing body.

"There can be no common good with management unless there is real power-sharing," said Lord Glasman. "Instead of being appointed solely by government fiat, the BBC Trust should be a third elected by licence-fee payers, with a further third of its members elected by the BBC workforce, whether journalists, caterers, production and technical staff or cleaners. In addition, the staff should elect one third of the BBC Executive."

The peer's proposal was welcomed by the National Union of Journalists at the BBC. David Campanale, NUJ spokesman, said: "For too long, the BBC's non-executive directors have been drawn largely from industry and the City, while the views of the workforce are not represented at board level. The lack of 'say' perhaps accounts for the relational disconnection between staff and the upper tiers of BBC management."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Urgent Requirement - Central Manchester

£20000 - £23000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Guru Careers: Social Media Executive / SEO Executive

£20 - 25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Social Media...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions