Prof. Małgorzata Fuszara, Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment (photo KRRiT)

Diversity belongs in the media

The role of the media in shaping tolerant attitudes and respect for diversity was discussed at a conference organised on 27 May by the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment and the National Broadcasting Council.
The conference began with an introductory speech by Prof. Małgorzata Fuszara, Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment, in which, referencing the voices of women's groups, ethnic and religious minority communities, and seniors, she reminded attendees that the formation of appropriate societal attitudes towards groups facing discrimination depends not only on education, but also on the media. The media has an enormous influence on the shaping of social behaviour.
- Protecting social equality and diversity are values of our European culture. Freedom of speech is the foundation upon which such diversity and mutual tolerance can be built. The media represents the common ground where these values meet and create a synergistic system - emphasized Jan Dworak, KRRiT Chairman.
Guests of the conference included representatives from women's groups: Kazimiera Szczuka (Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Congress of Women), Greta Gober (University of Oslo, International Association of Women in Radio & Television), Joanna Piotrowska (Feminoteka); minority representatives: Halina Radacz (Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland), Ton Van Anh (Vietnamese minority in Poland), Mamadou Diouf (Africa Another Way Foundation), Andrzej Siciński (Polish Seventh-day Adventist Church); academic representatives: Dr. Beata Łaciak, PhD (Institute of Public Affairs, University of Warsaw), Dr. Magdalena Ratajczak, PhD (Institute of International Studies, University of Wrocław), Professor Marcin Król (University of Warsaw) and media representatives: Joanna Warecha (Director, TVP Centre for Regional Channels), Tomasz Lis (Telewizja Polska), and the Co-chairman of the Joint Committee of the Government and Ethnic and National Minorities, Rafał Bartek.
The first part of the conference was dedicated to the discussion of equality in television and radio. The starting point of the discussion was the presentation of the results of the year-long monitoring (April 2014 – March 2015) of the 14 most important current affairs programmes in radio and television, conclusions regarding the presence of women in media based on the monitoring of election campaigns in 2014, as well as a presentation of the results of the study "Gender equality and social justice in public media".
Anna Dryjańska and Piotr Pacewicz presented results from the week of the election campaign in the media (18-22 May), which showed that the gender proportion on current affairs programmes during this period was not balanced. In the week leading up to the elections, 93% of media appearances were made by men, and only 7% by women, e.g. Mariusz Błaszczak and Jarosław Gowin received as much screen time as all women put together. Those programmes to which women were not invited during the week in question were: Telewizja Polska's Dziś wieczorem, Polish Radio's Salon Polityczny Trójki, Polsat News' Graffiti, Radio Zet's Gość Radia Zet, RMF FM's Kontrwywiad, as well as TVN's Fakty po faktach and Kropka nad i.
Analysis of the year-long monitoring (April 2014 – March 2015) of fourteen current affairs programmes (both television and radio) indicated that the percent share of women's appearances (13%) was significantly lower than that of men (87%). The situation was a bit better in the case of public television programmes (16.32%), broadcasts hosted by women as well as in cases where there was more than one studio guest.
Analysis of the year-long monitoring indicates that women were most often invited to Telewizja Polska's Tomasz Lis Na żywo (27.1%), Radio TOK FM's Wybory w TOKu (26.9%) and to Polski Radio's Salon Polityczny Trójki (17.1%). They appeared least on the Radio RMF FM programme Kontrwywiad (7.8%) and on TVN24 programmes Jeden na jeden (7.4%) and Kawa na ławę (5.1%). Anna Dryjańska and Piotr Pacewicz, referencing existing active and passive voting rights (i.e. the right to vote and the right to run for office), indicated the need to start a dialogue on election rights in the media, including, in particular, the right of women to be represented in the media, and by extension to comment on present realities, especially in the political realm.
A similar disproportion is shown in the National Broadcasting Council analyses on the presence of women in current affairs television broadcasts on the 2014-2015 elections. Barbara Turowska, Director of the KRRiT Department of Monitoring, emphasized that both in the campaigns for the European Parliament as well as for the local government, the proportion of women in nation-wide current affairs broadcasts to men invited to the broadcasts (14% and 86%, respectively) greatly differed from the proportions present in the debates. Among invited guests, men clearly dominated – in the roles of candidates, experts, and campaign commentators – as well as in terms of both time and frequency of programme appearances. An analysis of exposure time on individual programmes indicated that women most often appeared on Telewizja Trwam (31%) and Telewizja Polska channels TVP2 (28%) and TVP1 (18%). It should be noted, however, that Telewizja Trwam only invited representatives of one political party to its programmes. The proportions were slightly different on news programmes: women's appearance time amounted to 25%. Analysis of the type of guests selected indicates that 90% of women invited were candidates in the elections, 6% appeared as experts, and 4% were politicians commenting on the events under discussion.
Greta Gober, from the Centre for Gender Research in Oslo, presented the results of research done by the International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT) on gender representation in public media. In her address "Gender equality and social justice in public media in Poland", she compared the presence of women in the media in over a dozen countries around the world. In this respect, Poland lags behind Kenya, Tanzania and Cambodia.
According to Marcin Chałupka of Krytyka Polityczna, strengthening the presence of women in public debate, and consequently in institutions and businesses, guarantees a diverse point of view on important social problems and their solutions, and takes into account needs other than traditional male ones in creating national and local government strategy.
It is clear from all of the research presented during the conference that women's participation in public life is marginalized in the media. The causes of underrepresentation of women in the media was the topic of the discussion panel "How should egalitarian radio and television be created?". Its participants stressed that most often the media invited the same guests. Men appeared much more often in the role of experts. It was brought to attention that there are women experts in all professional fields. However, they do not occupy the highest positions, which is perhaps one of many reasons why they rarely appear in the media. Participants in the debate noted the non-formal criteria for choosing women to participate in television programmes, such as age and looks, which guarantee high viewership ratings. It was noted that men are not "censored" in such a way. Frequent abandoning of the quality of the debate's content in favor of attractiveness and popularity (ratings) was also brought up. Such journalistic practices should not influence the selection of programme guests, as it greatly oversimplifies reality, whereas strengthening the presence of women in public life guarantees a diverse picture of the world. The participants stressed that changes regarding the presence of women in the media are necessary. They pointed out the necessity of raising awareness in this area through social action, workshops for journalists, media campaigns, self-regulation, and legal change.
The need to educate journalists and strengthen intercultural competence as well as to fight damaging stereotypes was brought up during the discussion panel devoted to religious, ethnic, national, and linguistic diversity in the media. Presenting different social groups and their activities and achievements in the media in an impartial way, dispassionately, and in accordance with ethical principles should help eliminate stereotypes. Panel participants emphasized that public media plays a great role in promoting the culture, values, and needs of minorities, and in shaping open and tolerant attitudes as a result. The unfavourable broadcast times and lack of air time for programmes addressed to ethnic, national, and religious minorities were noted.
Following the conference, Prof. Małgorzata Fuszara, Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment, formulated conclusions and recommendations for the appropriate organizations and institutions.
The conference report may be found on the website of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister (KPRM).


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