A report commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation says the BBC should feature more lesbian, gay and bisexual people in its programming.
According to The Telegraph, the report said that the BBC should be “more creative and bolder” in how it depicts lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people and do it best to avoid stereotypes.
The study concluded that although there has been a gradual improvement in the level of LGB representation, in real terms they were “still relatively invisible” in the media.
A panel of experts identified four key areas for improvement:
Firstly, it was recommended that the BBC use children’s programs to help “familiarize audiences through incidental portrayal from an early age” and reach older LGB youth.
Secondly, the report said that LGB people were inadequately represented in sport within the corporation – despite available talent.
Thirdly, the review said drama was a “powerful tool” and should be used to educate viewers about sexuality. It also warned that comedy programming needed to avoid making gay and lesbian characters “the focus” of the joke.
Fourthly, the study said BBC News programs needed to be “more creative and nuanced” in their presentation.
Drawing attention to news debates, it advised that the BBC avoid using “two extreme perspectives.” It was also noted that as a public service broadcaster the BBC had a responsibility to set the tone on moral issues.
As well as pointing out its recommendations, the review also detailed the statistics it based its findings on.
The report stated that over half of the UK’s population is comfortable with the portrayal of homosexual men and lesbians on television, but approximately 15 percent said they were not comfortable.
According to a survey of about 3,500 viewers, one in four heterosexual men said that they thought too many gay and lesbian people were featured on television programmes.
Other contributors to the study included representatives from LBG organizations.
These representatives said the media played a critical role in educating society and was invaluable as a tool to reach younger LGB viewers.
Those organizations said although there had been a gradual degree of improvement in media in the last ten years, credible gay representation is still so rare that it “stands out” when it happens.
The report found that lesbians and bisexuals, in particular, felt under-represented in television and media in general.
This 2012 study was commissioned after a similar 2010 BBC study was criticized for not being independent enough.
Tim Davie, the BBC’s acting director general and chair of the BBC Working Group which commissioned the review, said:
“The BBC has a fundamental obligation to serve all its audiences. In fact, it’s one of the BBC’s public purposes to reflect the diversity of UK life.”
“I’m proud to have led this work for three years, and this review underlines our commitment and sets a direction for the work to continue.”