The French and Belgian (French-Speaking Community) regulatory authorities have recently published the outcome of their assessment of diversity in television broadcast content for the year 2012. The objective of the research was to assess the perception of diversity in television programmes.
The French barometer of diversity was created in 2009 by the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) as an objective tool to measure diversity. Its methodology consists of indexing in each television programme all the characters that appears and express themselves on the screen. The indexing of the characters is made on the basis of four characteristic features: socio-professional category, sex, ethnic origin and disability. Television programmes broadcast at peak viewing time (17:00-23:00) and news on 16 free-to-air terrestrial channels and on Canal+ were assessed during two weeks.
The Belgian barometer of diversity and equality was launched three years ago by the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA). The CSA monitored diversity and equality on 26 public, commercial and local television channels broadcast in the Federation Wallonia-Brussels in 2012. During one week of study, more than 430 hours of television programmes were systematically described taking into account such factors as sex, age, ethnical origin, socio-professional category and disability. This study was complemented by the Panorama of Good Practices which showcases the existing best practices concerning diversity in the field of media and encourages professionals from the media sector to share their experiences and launch new initiatives.
The final results of both French and Belgian studies define a “percentage” of indexed diversity. As an example, the French diversity barometer shows that only 0,7% of the characters indexed in the programmes that were monitored showed persons with disabilities. Further to the somewhat disappointing results of the monitoring for 2012, the French CSA has decided to launch an action plan for 2013 to improve diversity on television. In Belgium, even if the results of the latest barometer show a positive trend in the representation of women and visible minorities on the screen, they also highlight a continous underrepresentation of all observed groups.