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05/01/2010

Equality Minister Blasts 'Ageist' Beeb

Women's Secretary Harriet Harman has accused the BBC of "not valuing" older female news presenters.
Speaking during a BBC radio interview, Ms Harman suggested female presenters at the corporation were expected to be a least 10 years younger than their male counterparts.
She said: "It's essentially an old-fashioned attitude that thinks you can't value the experience and wisdom of an older woman."
Responding to the comments, a BBC spokesman said its programming "always strive to reflect as broad a range of diversity as possible".
Ms Harman said producers have found it possible to value older men, but did not attach the same value to women of a similar age.
"A former senior BBC executive said to me: 'the thing is, the way we saw it was that as male presenters got older they become an authority and as female presenters got older they became a problem'.
"To be a BBC news presenter as a woman you have to be 10 years younger than the men."
She said the corporation should be "anxious and worried" about its treatment of older females.
Accusations of ageism were first squared at the BBC in 2007 following the removal of then-58-year-old Moira Stewart from her regular news slot on Sunday AM.
Director General Mark Thompson defended the decision before a panel of MPs.
He told culture committee members Ms Stewart's role as a "traditional" news reader had effectively died out.
Last year the corporation caused a furore when it was announced Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Philips was to be replaced by singer Alesha Dixon on the popular talent show.
Ms Philips, 66, is 36-years older than Ms Dixon.
However, a fresh line-up of veteran female newscasters is set to be unveiled by the BBC early this year.
Former ITN presenters Julia Somerville and Fiona Armstrong are expected to join the corporation's rolling news channel.
(PR/GK)
VMI.TV Ltd

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