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SBD Global/July 19, 2013/Media

Culture Secretary Maria Miller Says BBC Must Take Action Over 'Sexist' Sports Coverage

Culture Secretary Maria Miller has asked the BBC for a further apology.
Britain Culture Secretary Maria Miller "has attacked the BBC over its sexist Wimbledon coverage," and said that she will "boycott the Open golf championship because it is being held at the Muirfield club, which refuses to admit women members," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. Miller "has written a scathing letter" to BBC Dir General Tony Hall demanding to know whether "any further action is likely to be taken" over Wimbledon commentator John Inverdale's sexist comments. Miller, who is also minister for women and equalities, said that she is "particularly concerned about the BBC incident as she has identified increased coverage of women's sport as a top priority." She said that the BBC "had not gone far enough with Inverdale's apologies, both on-air and in a letter to Bartoli, and that she wanted to see more action" (GUARDIAN, 7/18). The London GUARDIAN published a letter Hall wrote in reply to Miller. In it, Hall wrote, "The BBC has a proud record of supporting women's sport, as I am sure you will have recognised from the current coverage of Euro 2013. We are building on the fantastic success of the Olympics, with a team including many women broadcasters, through extensive day-in-day-out coverage across our TV, radio and online services." Hall added, "I can also tell you, following our Respect at Work review, that we are taking another look at the BBC's equality and diversity policies, which apply to all our staff. Whilst the review found no evidence of sexual harassment in the BBC now, one outcome has been for us to be much clearer when we communicate to those who work for us what constitutes inappropriate behaviour or language and to reaffirm the BBC's values around respect" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In London, Jane Martinson wrote on the GUARDIAN's The Women's Blog "the cynical among you may point out that this intervention is a bit late (the comments were made two weeks ago), were published on the front page of the Daily Mail, a paper with its own interesting view of women, and comes from a government not known for its firm stance on equality issues, but none of these entirely obscures the central point." Miller attacking the BBC "may not be a story," but Miller attacking "the broadcaster for its sexist sports coverage is a very good story indeed." Coming just a few days after Miller criticized the fact that the Open Championship is held at a club that refuses to allow women to become members, her letter "suggests that she may be getting serious about the Olympic legacy that was supposed to increase participation in sport." Nowhere "is this increased participation needed more than among women and girls" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).
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