New Culture Secretary backs women’s sport
Tue 18 Sep 2012
The Coalition government's new Culture Secretary, Maria Miller MP, has called for increased television coverage of women's sport following the success of female athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, when millions of viewers tuned in to watch winning performances from the likes of Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds, Laura Trott and Nicola Adams.
In a letter to national broadcasters, Mrs Miller argued that the huge viewing figures showed a real appetite for more mainstream coverage, and stressed the need to capitalise on the momentum from London 2012.
Sport and equality
Mrs Miller, who is also the Minister for Women and Equalities, commented that women's sport has been "woefully under-represented on television" with women's cricket, football and netball "buried pretty deep in the schedules, if shown at all.”
In a letter to broadcasters, the Minister wrote: "I realise there are considerable pressures on your schedules but I would be most grateful if we could perhaps meet to discuss how women's sports coverage can get more profile in the mainstream, helping to build a real broadcasting legacy from the Games."
Mrs Miller's intervention will be seen as a very positive contribution to a debate that is familiar to many within the sport and recreation sector. It could still be a long time before softball sees any benefits, but any pressure to increase the profile and coverage of women's sport has to be a good thing.
The status of women’s sport came under particular scrutiny last December when the BBC was heavily criticised for an all-male Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. The BBC is expected to announce changes to the selection process later this month.
Tim Lamb, Chief eExecutive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: “We warmly welcome Mrs Miller’s call for increased coverage of women’s sport. The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation has highlighted that there is currently only one hour of women’s sport coverage for every twenty hours of men’s sport, and this has to change if we want to see more girls playing sport and achieving success in the future.”