Sunday, June 11, 2006

Newsround must be inclusive

Newsround has covered around 450 stories between 6 March - 9 June 2006. I've broken the stories down into eight categories:

Main news 20.3%
Kids/school news* 15.2%
Sports news 22.3%
Celeb,music,films arts 11.9%
Environmental,climate 15.2%
Animals 7.5%
Sci/tech 4.6%
Other 2.9%

*including stories about, or touching on 'bullying'
7 March, 15 May, 23 May

None of the programmes covered lgbt issues. But the same has been true for years. Newsround Extra on 13 March 2006 was about depression, and although homophobia and bullying about being gay are a main cause of depression, the programme avoided the topic completely.

It seems clear that some very senior people at the BBC believe words like 'gay' and 'lesbian' aren't suitable for children. In February three years ago the BBC's director of television was surprised to find out that her eight year old had heard of lesbians.

But hold on a minute - this is some of what the BBC governors had to say recently:

The Committee noted that the word "gay", in addition to being used to mean "homosexual" or "carefree", was often now used to mean "lame" or "rubbish". This is a widespread current usage of the word amongst young people.....The Committee believed that, in describing a ring tone as "gay", Chris Moyles was conveying that he thought it was "rubbish" rather than "homosexual".....It did, however, feel that it would be advisable to think more carefully about using the word "gay" in its derogatory sense in the future, given the multiple meanings of the word in modern usage and the potential to cause unintended offence. Nevertheless, given the programme's audience, the Committee considered the broadcast to be within the relevant editorial guidelines.

So as far as the BBC is concerned, young people hearing 'gay' to mean 'rubbish' meets editorial guidelines, but polite usage on programmes like Newsround is not acceptable.

Hardly surprising, then, that more people are beginning to realise that our national broadcaster is homophobic to the core.

No comments: