In a week of celebrations for International Women’s Day, Mark Demuth, controller of ITV Sport, Production, said that the number of women candidates applying for positions in sports broadcasting should be higher.
Reporter: Jaideep Vaidya @jaideepjourno
Sub editor: Kait Borsay
It is a long-running argument recently reignited by a parliamentary committee report that highlighted the dearth of women in news broadcasting.
Demuth said that men outnumbered women in ITV’s production team by around four to one. “We need to encourage women to come through,” he told Westminster World in an exclusive chat. “Are we not seeing enough [female] candidates? Possibly.”
Currently enjoying his second tenure at ITV’s London Studios, Demuth has worked across radio and television, most notably for the BBC. He was the first editor of Match of the Day 2 (MOTD2).
The Crystal Palace fan said that the representation of women in broadcasting could be better, but quotas aren’t the way forward.
“I’m loath to attach quotas because you end up with a target and you have to fill that quota,” he said. “You end up going against the criteria you set of having the best people in the best roles.”
Demuth feels there is no need for any gender dilemma, particularly when it comes to using the best on-screen talent.
“The best way it will be regarded in the future is if people don’t comment whether it is a male or female presenter, but just a good presenter. That’s the best place to be, where people are not discriminating for or against it. People just want good broadcasters.”
Demuth cited examples of women broadcasters who have made it big in the industry, but said that there weren’t enough candidates emerging right now.
“We have Jennie Gow who does the Formula E coverage for us. She’s excellent and she’s earned that role not because she’s a woman and we need to put somebody in that role. She’s earned that role because she’s a good broadcaster and she knows her subject inside out.
“ITV had Gabby Logan present the World Cup in 2006. Sue Barker presented Wimbledon for a number of years. I think the problem is that there have been some prominent women broadcasters but there haven’t been a great deal coming through behind.”
However, Demuth, who has worked across several Olympics, football World Cups and European Championships, is optimistic about the future. Both in front of and behind the camera.
“There are a lot of opportunities [for women in broadcasting] going forward,” he said. “I think there are a number of women broadcasters out there who can do the role. We [ITV] wouldn’t think twice before putting a woman in a role, whatever the sport. If they are a good presenter, then that’s the criteria for us. That’s how it has to be.
“I would hope that in five years time there will be an advancement from where we are now. It should be the norm.”
Demuth also discussed the rise in popularity of women’s football, saying it could offer a “huge opportunity” for broadcasters.
“It will help if England do well in the summer in the World Cup,” he said. “There’s a greater acceptance now with women’s football. The stronger their league gets, the more profile it gets through the clubs, it will develop slowly.”
For more from Mark Demuth, including video footage of his Harrow Conversation at the University of Westminster click here