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Women’s Sport: Media Coverage

Volume 579: debated on Thursday 1 May 2014

2. What progress the Government Equalities Office has made on encouraging improved media coverage of women’s sport. (903797)

We have seen some progress from the media, and especially from broadcasters, in this area. The top-quality coverage of our inspirational women in Sochi was absolutely tremendous, but of course more needs to be done.

I thank the Minister for that response. Has she had time to reflect on the links between media coverage and sponsorship, and does she not find it extraordinary, in the 21st century, that sponsorship of women’s sport pales into insignificance when compared with that of men’s sport?

My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point. He is quite right that the level of women’s sport sponsorship deals is very low indeed, compared with all deals; it is at about 2%. Having top-level women’s sports events covered in the media will of course encourage companies to get involved. I congratulate Helena Morrissey and her company, Newton, on their smart decision to sponsor the women’s boat race.

Glasgow’s Commonwealth games will be a marvellous opportunity to highlight excellence in women’s sport, but regrettably, regional TV and radio coverage of women’s sport is woeful in this country. I would be grateful if the Minister confirmed whether she has made any representations to public service providers and commercial radio about the need for women’s sport to be covered in much more volume and detail.

The hon. Lady makes a good point. Women’s sport is one of my priorities, and visibility and coverage of women is key to so many things, including sponsorship. We have had a number of meetings with the media and print magazines. Sky and the BBC have certainly upped their game since the 2012 Olympics, through more coverage and dedicated sports programmes focusing on women. Female individuals such as Clare Balding and Barbara Slater are an important part of that process.