C: CoWomen (Unsplash)

Labour to bring forward a Bill compelling broadcasters to increase female participation 

The Labour Party is set to bring forward a Bill that would compel broadcasters to ensure that their programme material, taken as a whole, “is responsive to the interests, of members of all groups (defined by reference to gender, sexual orientation, disability, colour and socio-economic status) within the community.”

The Bill also seeks to amend the Broadcasting Act 2009 so that in relation to news and current affairs programmes there is equal participation by men and women, and that, in relation to the broadcasting of music content, at least 50 per cent of the amount of broadcasting time is allocated to such content is that are composed or performed by women. 

Labour Party Senator, Marie Sherlock, said the Party has been working with the Why Not Her collective for some time now to produce the Bill, “which is very much designed to start a conversation amongst members of the Dáil and Seanad as to how we achieve greater diversity and equality over the airwaves in Ireland.” 

Senator Sherlock has invited Oireachtas members to join her and representatives of Why Not Her, Fair Plé and other campaign groups at 1pm on Thursday outside the gates of Leinster House. 

This will be followed by briefing on the Gender Disparity Report 2022 produced by Why Not Her. That report claims to have revealed that “FM104 and Today FM rank as two of the worst stations for improving diversity in their top 20 artists.” 

The Report also criticises FM104, on the alleged grounds that “100 per cent of their top 20 Irish artists are white men,” and that “for the past five years, the top five domestic artists played on the station have been white men.” 

The collective also claim that “in the month of January Today FM played 100% white male artists from Ireland in their heavy rotation Top 20 playlist of Irish artists, 0% female artist and 0 artists of colour.” 

No date has been set for when the Bill will be formally introduced and no specific indications have been provided as to the penalties that would be targeted at broadcasters who fail to achieve the kind of ‘balance’ or diversity sought by the Bill. 

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