The report, authored by Ofcom (UK) on behalf of EPRA, is based on the results of a questionnaire completed by 31 audiovisual regulatory authorities, and which informed the deliberations of a 2018 EPRA Working Group dedicated to Diversity issues.
The purpose of the comparative report was to provide an overview of the different roles and approaches adopted by national audiovisual regulatory authorities in promoting greater gender representation and portrayal both on- and off-screen, and raising some points for regulators to consider.
The report highlights the following:
General Trends: There are disparities across Europe between the representation of men and women both on- and off-screen. Women appear less on screen across a range of genres and are typically subject to more stereotypical and degrading portrayal than men. In off-screen creative roles, women are also generally under-represented, but most significantly in senior and/or technical positions.
Role of regulators: Some regulators have legal obligations and powers which require them to achieve a more equal gender balance on screen. As a result, many regulators are conducting monitoring exercises and producing annual reports to track the gender ratios in television programmes, and to hold broadcasters to account. The topic of off-screen representation has so far not had the same level of recognition and, response with fewer regulators conducting research, and even less conducting ongoing assessments or creating initiatives to improve the situation of women behind the scenes.
There is appetite and energy among many regulators to address issues of gender representation on- and off-screen. This can be demonstrated by the proactive way in which many NRAs have acted to date, even though many do not have a specific statutory remit in this regard.
As ensuring diversity is an almost universal theme in the remit of regulators, it also raises the question as to whether it is desirable to increase their statutory competences to ensure a more formal role in achieving greater gender representation in the broadcasting organisations under their jurisdiction, as well as in the content available to European audiences.
There is general agreement on the need for more regular and comprehensive data: this would help deliver a clearer picture of both the challenges and progress in this area and allow for a comparative assessment of the position across jurisdictions.
Subject to the willingness of regulators to collaborate further, there is potential for greater coordination and co-operation in the activities that regulators undertake and for a greater sharing of the experience gained and lessons learned.
There is also a potential role for networks of media regulators, such as EPRA, ERGA, MNRA and REFRAM, in developing and supporting this area of work further and in agreeing a tentative orientation for the future that would reflect their own specificity.
The report also provides some European and International context by summarising high level developments within the European Commission and the Council of Europe, as well as the United Nations. Annex 2 of the report includes useful references to other relevant upcoming or completed research in the field of gender equality and media which EPRA hopes will be of assistance to audiovisual regulators in continuing their work in this area.
Background information about EPRA:
EPRA is an independent platform, which was founded in 1995 in response to the need for increased co-operation between European regulatory authorities.
Its mission is "to provide an independent and transparent forum for audiovisual regulators to share relevant information, best practice, experience and expertise. It explores innovative means of regulating and analysing the audiovisual sector and sharing that with a wider audience of stakeholders"
53 regulatory authorities from 47 countries are members of EPRA. The European Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Audiovisual Observatory and the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media are standing Observers of the Platform.
In addition to the NRAs from the EU 28, it also gathers:
NRAs from EFTA;
NRAs from candidate countries (AL, ME, MK, RS, TR);
NRAs from potential candidate countries (BA, XK);
NRAs from 5 countries of the EU Eastern partnership (AM, AZ, GE, MD, UA).
The EPRA Secretariat is exclusively financed by members and hosted by the European Audiovisual Observatory, to ensure stability and independence, and to make use of natural synergies with the host and minimize administrative burdens and costs.