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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Feedback

BBC Radio 4's Feedback gives listeners the opportunity to air their views about the station's programmes.

On last week's Feedback the new controller of Radio 4, Gwyneth Williams, was invited to respond personally to some of the listeners who called in to make comments.

One listener called Feedback to raise his concerns about the gender imbalance on the airwaves. Ms. Williams spoke to the listener personally and was then questioned further about this issue by Feedback's presenter, Roger Bolton. Her response to this issue was flimsy and depressing and, as a result, this happened:

Dear Ms. Williams

I felt compelled to write to you after I heard your comments about gender imbalance on air during Radio 4's
Feedback last week. I was deeply disappointed by your response to the comments made by the listener who contacted the programme about this issue and I felt utterly depressed by your lack of understanding of and commitment to positive discrimination.

I had hoped that, as the new Controller of Radio 4, your
first priority would have been to begin to actively address the very worrying gender imbalance that exists on Radio 4. Instead, your response to your listener's concerns on Feedback lacked any real substance and, I'm afraid, implied that your knowledge of how to remedy this issue is limited and out of date.

In response to your listener, you said, 'what we want on Radio 4 are the best presenters ... we go for quality, that's the thing that matters more than anything'. This comment can only imply that, given that there are very many more male presenters on Radio 4 than female, you think that men are better than women at the job. However, you then said that 'of course' women can give equal quality to men. So, my question is, what is your argument exactly? And, more importantly, if you truly believe that women
can give equal quality to men (which of course they can), what are you going to be doing to recruit more women for presenting roles at Radio 4?

Of course you must know it is
only because of inequality of opportunity that there are far less female presenters than male presenters on Radio 4. There is no other reason for it.

Positive discrimination is necessary. And it works. Your tone on
Feedback and your lack of a constructive answer to this very serious problem seemed to suggest that the notion of positive discrimination made you uncomfortable and embarrassed. If this is the case, then any hopes I had about how you would be taking advantage of your new role to address the gender imbalance at radio 4 have been dashed.

Kind regards


J


Dear J, Thnk [sic] you for your note. I am sorry to have disappointed you. However, I am genuinely proud of the volume and calibre of R4's female presnters [sic] . We have so many and they present key prgrammes [sic] - such as Kirsty Young, Jenni Murray, Martha Kearney, Ritula Shah... and many more. Be assured you will continue to hear women presenters on Radio 4. Best Wishes Gwyneth Williams  


God help us. God absolutely help us.

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