Saturday, 7 September 2013

Why do Australian TV networks always have panels full of dudes?

Tonight I settled down in front of my TV with a drink and my Macbook to watch the election coverage.

What I saw was a different kind of sausage fest to the one at the polling booth BBQ earlier today.

Here's what viewers were privy to in terms of hosts for the coverage:

ABC: Kerry O'Brien, Tony Jones, Joe O'Brien, Antony Green, Annabel Crabb

TEN: Hugh Rimmington, Charlie Pickering, Dave Hughes, Carrie Bickmore

SEVEN: Chris Bath, Mark Riley, Melissa Doyle, Matt White

NINE: Karl Stefonovic, Lisa Wilkinson, Laurie Oakes

SKY NEWS: David Speers

So 12 men and 5 women. More than double the amount of men than women, with Seven the only network with an even panel gender wise.

When you add in the panel guests for the night it gets even worse in terms of gender equality.

ABC: Stephen Smith, Arthur Sinodinos

TEN: Steve Price, Sandra Sully, Paul Bongiorno, Natasha Stott Despoja

SEVEN: Jeff Kennett, Chris Pyne, Bob Katter, Paul Howes, Bronwyn Bishop, Alexander Downer, Don Farrell

NINE: Peter Costello, Amanda Vanstone, Simon Crean, Scott Morrison, Craig Emerson, Lachlan Harris

SKY NEWS: Bob Hawke, George Brandis, Tony Burke, Graham Richardson, Michael Kroger

20 men and just 4 women. So in total, 32 men on election coverage around the country and 9 women.

It's well known that TV networks seem to have a problem with women. ABC's Q&A is a prime example- week in, week out, they stick to a formula of a male host, 3 male panelists, one female panelist. Sometimes they'll throw in a second woman on the panel- sometimes not. Many tweeps- including @Msloulou77 and @JennaPrice- lobbied Q&A for more women on panels some months back, but nothing changed. Q&A haven't even publicly acknowledged the criticism- just pretended it never existed.

It looks to be the same with the election coverage- throw in a token woman, and then you can appear like you're not sexist. Meanwhile, the rest of the panel and hosts will be (white) men who can properly analyse the results.

There are so many talented women who would be insightful and give real value to the coverage. Why are they ignored?

One point that seemed to rile people was the omission of Leigh Sales from the ABC coverage. The host of 730 and arguably the best political interviewer in the country, left off completely from election night?

We need to let the heads of the news divisions know that this isn't acceptable. You can tweet Mark Scott (ABC), Rob Raschke (Seven) and Darren Wick (Nine), and email Sky News. Apparently the only way you can complain to Ten News is via post but they also have a general twitter account.

Now, back to the sausage fest of election coverage. Sigh.

*Note- This does not consider the SBS coverage as it had not started when this piece was published.


  1. Did either the ABC or Leigh Sales issue a reason for her omission? That decision was absolutely confounding.

  2. The new Federal Cabinet neither bodes well for the country, or with regard to women's voices being heard. :|