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MP: Only 2% of national press sports coverage on women

By Andrew Pugh

Only 2 per cent of articles and 1 per cent of images in the sports pages of national newspapers are devoted to female athletes and women’s sport, according to a Labour MP.

Barbara Keeley was given the figures by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, which carried out a review across all national daily newspapers.

Over the three days of the review, conducted out earlier this year, the newspapers published more than 1,500 articles on sport but just 2 per cent were on women’s sport.

The group also reviewed TV sports coverage and found that on one Friday evening only three of the 72 hours of sport broadcast on Sky were devoted to women’s sport.

“I am sad to say that the online coverage of women’s sport reviewed was little better—although I should mention the Sportsister website, which is dedicated to women’s sport,” Keeley said in a Parliament debate yesterday.

“However, apart from that exception, on the 10 sports news internet sites that were reviewed on one day in April, only 1 per cent of the links were to articles on female sports, and there was not a single image of a female athlete on the front page of the top 10 websites.

“That is the normal situation outside the Olympics, but if that level of coverage had applied during the Olympics, we would have missed a great deal.”

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Labour MP Barbara Keeley


Keeley added: “Team GB women athletes won 22 of our 65 medals, 10 of them gold. If our women athletes had received only 1 per cent or 2 per cent of the news coverage during that time, we would possibly have seen some of Jessica Ennis’s gold in the heptathlon, but what would we have missed?

“We would have missed Nicola Adams winning the historic first gold in the boxing; Victoria Pendleton’s individual gold; the team gold for Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell, and Laura Trott’s gold in the omnium; the rowing golds—won when we had got hardly any gold medals—of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, and Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking; Charlotte Dujardin’s magnificent gold in the dressage and her gold in the mixed team dressage; and Jade Jones’s gold in the taekwondo.”

Her comments come after the new Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, wrote to all national broadcasters on Saturday telling them to reassess their coverage of women’s sport.

Keeley said she supported Moore’s initiative but insisted that more needed to be done, adding that the all-party parliamentary group on women’s sport and fitness has asked the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to consider undertaking an inquiry into the media profile of women’s sport.

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