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DCU research finds 60/40 split in favour of men on RTÉ shows during early pandemic

The researchers analysed RTÉ’s response to the pandemic between 1 March and 31 May 2020.
Aug 26th 2021, 6:20 AM 22,865 47

A NEW RESEARCH report examining diversity and inclusion at RTÉ during Covid is to be launched this afternoon, and examines gender parity as well as racial inclusion in the State broadcaster’s programming. 

The researchers looked at RTÉ’s response to the pandemic between 1 March and 31 May 2020 and analysed the content of several RTÉ radio and TV programmes.

Researchers also interviewed 10 RTÉ decision-makers on diversity and inclusion at the organisation.

Research questions included:

  • How did RTÉ perceive its role during the crisis and what challenges and opportunities arose for public service media?
  • How is diversity and inclusion conceptualised and enacted within RTÉ?
  • How diverse were the voices in programming during the crisis?

The research examined gender diversity across RTÉ Radio 1 programmes Brendan O’Connor; The Business and Today with Claire Byrne, and RTÉ One programmes Claire Byrne Live; Ireland on Call, and The Late Late Show.

In terms of programming, across all programme participants, the gender ratio was 60% male to 40% female.

Claire Byrne Live and Ireland on Call came closest to gender parity, with females representing 46% of participants on each programme.

Commenting on the research, Dr Eileen Culloty said: “The pandemic presented a unique opportunity to assess RTÉ’s public service role and the position of diversity within that.

“Our research found that RTÉ, as an organisation, has made significant progress in defining and promoting a strategic vision for diversity and that it is taken seriously by RTÉ decision-makers.

“However, meaningful progress will take time, commitment and funding, as well as collaboration with communities and campaigners who are developing diversity initiatives.”

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Dr Culloty said finding appropriate ways to monitor diversity and inclusion remains a challenge in Ireland. 

She added: “Robust and appropriate measurement techniques need to be developed to enable benchmarking and a transparent evaluation of RTÉ’s progress on its diversity commitments – both on- and off-air.”

The research was funded under the BAI’s 2019 Media Research Funding Scheme, which also provided funding for a separate report ‘Auditing Gender & Diversity Change in Irish Media Sectors’, launched in July.

It was carried out by academics from DCU. 

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Garreth MacNamee

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