New Research on the portrayal of age in the media

"Serving All Ages" - research into the portrayal of age in the media. This research was commissioned by the BBC as current chair of the Creative Diversity Network (CDN).

The CDN is a partnership of media companies made up of ITV, Channel 4, Sky, ITN, S4/C, Pact, MTV, Shine Group, Media Trust, Turner and BAFTA, which exists to improve diversity across our industry.

The CDN has made public commitments to do more to serve all audiences, and understand better attitudes towards portrayal of age in the media.

Serving All Ages was carried out at the end of 2011 by NatCen Social Research. The research canvassed the opinions of the general public, the broadcast industry and people with a specific interest in the issue of age, looking at output on TV, radio and online in all UK media organisations.

The key findings are:

People are more concerned with the portrayal of age on TV than on other platforms

Age is considered much less of an issue on radio, as participants could not readily tell the age of contributors and would choose a radio station that reflects their needs and interests

Younger people are most concerned with how they are portrayed on TV, and many feel they are portrayed negatively. This view was also shared by some older people

Older people are less concerned with portrayal on TV, but some expressed a feeling of invisibility. This was particularly the case for middle aged and older women and more so in some genres (news and factual) than others

Audiences wanted television in particular to reflect reality and wanted to avoid stereotyping and see a focus on accurate portrayal of all ages Industry experts focused on the need to find imaginative and creative ways to challenge existing stereotypes without being formulaic and stressed the importance of tracking and reviewing progress

Mark Thompson, BBC Director General and Chair of the CDN, said: "There are lessons here for the BBC and the rest of Britain's broadcasters. It is young people who are most concerned with the way they are portrayed and we need to look at this. But we should also note the concern, expressed by older people generally, about the need for greater visibility for older women. While of course there are many older women presenters and actors across our airwaves, this is something that needs to be addressed."

To read the full report into Serving All Ages click on the link www.bbc.co.uk/diversity/pdf/serving_all_ages30012012.pdf

Useful Links: NDA Project - Look at Me! 

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