Gay people still “invisible” on television, report finds
The BBC should feature more lesbian, gay and bisexual people in children’s television, a report has found.
The Telegraph: It should be “more creative and bolder” in how it depicts lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people across all platforms, taking care to avoid stereotypes, the review said.
The study, commissioned by the BBC, found that although there has been a gradual improvement in the level of representation of LBG people, they were “still relatively invisible” in the media.
An expert panel said the corporation should use children’s programming to help “familiarise audiences through incidental portrayal from an early age” as well as validating older children who may be LGB. It also said there were missed opportunities in sport, particularly given the availability of talent.
But the genre that received the most criticism was BBC News, which was warned that it should be “more creative and nuanced” in its presentation.
The panel said that as a public service broadcaster and standard bearer on moral issues, it should reconsider the way it sets up news debates and avoid using “two extreme perspectives”.
The report found that just over half of the population is comfortable with the portrayal of homosexual men and lesbians on television. Approximately 15 per cent said they were not comfortable and the rest had no strong views. One in four heterosexual men believe television features too many gay and lesbian people, particularly homosexual men, according to a survey of around 3,500 BBC viewers.
Part of the study was based on interviews with LGB organisations and representatives, who said the media played a critical role in educating wider society as well as reassuring younger gay viewers by using positive role models.
They said that although there had been a gradual degree of improvement across all media in the last ten years, representation of gay people is still so unusual that it “stands out” when included. Lesbians and bisexuals were felt to be particularly under-represented.
The panel said that drama was a “powerful tool” that should be used to educate viewers about sexuality but warned that the “biggest risk” lay in comedy, when gay and lesbian characters became the focus of the joke.
The report comes two years after a similar BBC study was conducted, but concerns were raised that the findings of the 2010 research had not been effectively communicated with independent producers.
Tim Davie, the BBC’s acting director general and chair of the BBC Working Group which commissioned the review, said: “The BBC has a fundamental obligation to serve all its audiences. In fact, it’s one of the BBC’s public purposes to reflect the diversity of UK life. “I’m proud to have led this work for three years, and this review underlines our commitment and sets a direction for the work to continue.”
Just what kids needs…to be taught about sexuality by a public news broadcaster. It’s their “moral” responsibility after all.