Sports Personality of the Year - a follow up

Saturday 3 December 2011

The official complaint to the BBC, regarding Sports Personality of the Year.

Emma Moore highlights Pinkstinks' problem with this year's nominations for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year:
I was utterly dismayed to see that not one single woman has been nominated in this year's Sports Personality of the Year for the following reasons:
  • By including not one single woman on the list you imply that there is not one single woman who has worked as hard, achieved as much, or succeeded to the same extent as the men.
  • By omitting women from the list you blatantly ignore women, women's sport and the contribution that women make to our sporting culture and heritage.
  • You fail to represent over half of the population of the UK, many of whom take part in sport, watch sport and love sport.
  • You fail to showcase the wealth of talent we have in this country and lose the chance to show children and young people that there are women out there who are fantastic, real role models.
Last year I complained about the patronising coverage (all 2 minutes of it) within the SPOTY programme. You responded wholly inadequately and brushed off my concerns saying that you would take my comments on board but actually you thought what you aired was adequate. (It was not. It was appalling.) It seems to me that the BBC is incapable of even recognising blatant sexism, let alone acting to eliminate it from its practices or schedules. Please can you explain why Nuts and Zoo magazine are on the panel of 'journalists' who nominate for SPOTY? Nuts and Zoo magazine are essentially soft porn magazines and are largely offensive and derogatory to women. I look forward your swift response.

If you would like to submit your own complaint, please go to the BBC's complaints' page. Feel free to draw some inspiration from Emma’s email.

The BBC has already responded to the complaints they've received. Some of the response is quite encouraging, however there are some issues, including:

The inclusion of publications such as Nuts and Zoo in the shortlisting panel is for a variety of reasons. These magazines have a dedicated sports section which every week covers a range of sports including Women's sport and minority sports. They also have a readership profile which reaches younger audiences and helps contribute to a balanced panel which is representative of all the BBC's audiences. There are very few other widely-read publications that cover such a breadth of sporting news, features and reports on a regular basis.

So, because a soft porn magazine has a wide audience and covers sport as well as porn - they’re excellent representatives. Whereas women’s sporting magazines, which don’t abuse degrading imagery of men and only cover sport, are rendered obsolete because they aren’t as popular as pornographic publications.

The BBC is proud to have followed the achievements of many successful sportswomen through our coverage of events such as the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon and the Women's Football World Cup.

Perhaps the BBC needs reminding that it took pressure to broadcast the quarter final between England and France on BBC2 rather than through the red button. We certainly don't!

One positive thing we can agree on is this:

The current focus on the shortlist for the Sports Personality of the Year Award has shone a bright light on the wider issues surrounding the media coverage and profile of Women's sport in the UK.

Yes, it has got people talking about coverage of women's sport in the UK. There’s been a complete media and public furore. Clare Balding, amongst others has started tweeting about it using the hashtag #womeninsport – if you haven’t already, join the debate. However we hardly think the BBC should hurry to pat itself on its collective back too quickly!

With regard to the nominations we asked you to submit last week, we are in the process of compiling the nominations we have already received, and will keep you posted! If you would like to submit your own nominations and haven't yet, please feel free to email us. If you'd prefer, you can leave a comment below. William Hill has surprised us all by creating its own list, so we'd like to second the Guardian's "hurrah"!

What do you think the BBC should do to rectify this appalling representation of women in sport? Should the participating publications be compelled to include women in its list? Are you satisfied with their response to the complaints? How do you feel about Nuts and Zoo contributing to nominations? Let us know in the comments!

Vicky Syred

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