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Scots MP slates TV bosses on choice of women presenters

A SCOTS MP has hit out at television bosses because female sports presenters and pundits were young and attractive "with one or two exceptions", while male colleagues tended to be "mature, fat and bald".

Jim Sheridan, Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, was questioning senior figures from the BBC, Sky Sports News, BT Sport and Channel 4 at the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee at the start of an inquiry into women's sport.

He said: "We very seldom see Clare Balding (horse racing presenter) on the back pages but suddenly she is on the front pages today because she has lost some weight.

"There's a feeling out there that if you're over 30 in the sports pundit game then you're finished. Is it coincidental the vast majority of women presenters, pundits etc are all very young, attractive people, with one or two exceptions? If you look at their male counterparts they are all mature, fat, bald, like the rest of us."

However, BBC director of sport Barbara Slater said: "We have some fantastic women presenters who have long-standing careers, genuine expertise and are there absolutely to enhance the credibility of what we do.

"We have Sue Barker, Gabby Logan, Clare Balding, Suzi Perry now doing Formula One, we have a new sports correspondent Natalie Pirks. They are there on merit."

Andy Cairns, executive editor of Sky Sports News, said: "Women make up 30% of our audience. Our presenters are all experienced, qualified journalists and are there on merit."

Tory Philip Davies criticised the broadcasters for claiming in written evidence to the committee that they deployed female presenters to help boost the number of women watching and taking part in sport.

"It's a masterclass in politically-correct, tokenistic, tick-boxing competition," he said after his demand for any of the witnesses to produce figures to back the claim was met with a long silence.

"It's rather nauseating. You have no idea whether it makes any difference to whether more women watch the programme."

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

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