Entertainment & Arts

BBC 'progress' in closing gender gap in local radio

Etholle George is at BBC Radio Suffolk (left) and Emma Britton is at BBC Somerset
Image caption Etholle George (left) is at BBC Radio Suffolk and Emma Britton (right) is at BBC Somerset

The number of female breakfast show presenters on BBC local radio has more than doubled in the last year, according to a Radio Times study.

In August last year, BBC director general Tony Hall outlined his ambition to have 50% of radio breakfast shows featuring a woman presenter by the end of 2014.

The number of female presenters has risen from eight to 18 since July 2013.

The figures apply to 41 local radio breakfast shows in the English regions.

"It's demonstrably good progress," David Holdsworth, the BBC's controller of English regions, told the Radio Times. "I think we've appointed some exciting, talented women who will, I hope, be great presenters both now and in the future."

Of the 18 shows with a female presenter, five have women presenting on their own. Thirteen shows now feature a woman co-presenting with a man.

Among the new breakfast presenters are Emma Britton at BBC Somerset, Carla George in Lincolnshire, Etholle George in Suffolk, Nicky Price in Norfolk and Georgey Spanswick in York.

December deadline

Spanswick, who took over the breakfast show in May, told the Radio Times: "It's not a box-ticking exercise. I do my job. I've worked really hard - and if I can't do this job, I'll be found out. Just as a man in my position would get found out if he couldn't do his job."

According to the Radio Times, 60% of the female-friendly breakfast show changes "have resulted in an extra job being created".

A BBC spokesperson said: "In just over a year we've more than doubled the number of programmes with a female presenter, and increased from one to five the number of shows presented by a solo female.

"Nearly half of breakfast shows - 44% - now have a female voice, and we hope to meet our ambition of 50% by December. It is wrong to suggest that asking a woman to present alongside a man is a 'quick fix' - these changes are about better reflecting the make-up of our audience in our programmes.

"Our breakfast programmes have the biggest audiences, so this is the right place to make these changes. The ambition is exactly the same as it has always been - 50% of our local radio shows with a female voice at breakfast, this is either solo or joint presenters."

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