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Women’s Sport (Media Coverage)

Volume 512: debated on Monday 21 June 2010

As the hon. Lady will realise, it is not for the Government to intervene in the editorial policy of individual media organisations. However, the Government can help through investment to promote women’s sports, as they have through London 2012—I remember the hon. Lady’s contribution to the Committee involved—the Whole Sport plans and the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Research by the Women’ Sport and Fitness Foundation showed that 61% of girls find that watching successful sports stars inspires them to be more active, but while we have male sport stars all over our screens, there is far less coverage of women’s sport. Will the Government include some women’s sporting events on the free-to-air list to help promote female sporting role models to the nation’s girls?

The answer is in two parts. We have called for independent economic analysis on the listed events review. That is due in the Department this week. We will look at that carefully before coming to any formal decision. I absolutely agree with what the hon. Lady says about the positive promotion of female role models through sport. London 2012 is a fantastic opportunity for that, and I very much welcome the decisions made about women’s boxing and the equalisation of events in cycling. That, I believe, is the way to move forward.

I add my congratulations to the ministerial team on the Front Bench. It is good to know that the Government are to make a decision on the listed events—in the very near future, I hope. It is right that we have seen a massive increase in the number of sportswomen who have achieved success, and they have done that through bodies such as the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation. Can the Minister assure me that the funding for that organisation will continue? How can we have role models when the Government are doing things like cutting free swimming?

Free swimming was, of course, a mass participation scheme, not an elite scheme, so it is completely different. As far as the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation is concerned, we will know after tomorrow’s Budget what the overall funding envelope will be and will then be able to make a decision about that scheme.