CDN publishes Serving All Ages - a snapshot of age portrayal in the industry

There are lessons here for the BBC and the rest of Britain’s broadcasters."Mark Thompson, BBC Director General and Chair of the CDN
Date: 31.01.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.16
Category: Corporate
Today, the CDN is publishing the findings of its research in portrayal of age in the media, ‘Serving All Ages’.

The research was commissioned by the BBC as current chair of the Creative Diversity Network. The CDN is a partnership of media companies made up of ITV, Channel 4, Sky, S4/C, Pact, MTV, Media Trust, Turner and BAFTA, which exists to improve diversity across our industry.

The CDN has made public commitments to do more to serve all audiences, and understand better attitudes towards portrayal of age in the media.

Serving All Ages was carried out at the end of 2011 by NatCen Social Research. The research canvassed the opinions of the general public, the broadcast industry and people with a specific interest in the issue of age, looking at output on TV, radio and online in all UK media organisations.

The key findings are:

  • People are more concerned with the portrayal of age on TV than on other platforms
  • Age is considered much less of an issue on radio, as participants could not readily tell the age of contributors and would choose a radio station that reflects their needs and interests 
  • Younger people are most concerned with how they are portrayed on TV, and many feel they are portrayed negatively. This view was also shared by some older people 
  • Older people are less concerned with portrayal on TV, but some expressed a feeling of invisibility. This was particularly the case for middle aged and older women and more so in some genres (news and factual) than others
  • Audiences wanted television in particular to reflect reality and wanted to avoid stereotyping and see a focus on accurate portrayal of all ages
  • Industry experts focused on the need to find imaginative and creative ways to challenge existing stereotypes without being formulaic and stressed the importance of tracking and reviewing progress

Mark Thompson, BBC Director General and Chair of the CDN, said: “There are lessons here for the BBC and the rest of Britain’s broadcasters. It is young people who are most concerned with the way they are portrayed and we need to look at this. But we should also note the concern, expressed by older people generally, about the need for greater visibility for older women. While of course there are many older women presenters and actors across our airwaves, this is something that needs to be addressed.”

The full report into Serving All Ages is here.

Notes to Editors

The CDN steering group is made up of BBC, Channel 4, S4C, ITV, ITN, Sky, Pact, BAFTA, MTV, Turner Broadcasting and Media Trust.

The Creative Diversity Network (CDN) is an association of Britain's leading broadcasters and affiliated organisations, originally formed in 2000, to improve the representation of ethnic minorities in television both on screen and behind the camera. In the past two to three years it has expanded its remit to acknowledge and include broader diversity, focusing work on areas such as disability, gender, and age. Its member bodies work collaboratively to share expertise, resources and models of good practice.

The BBC took over as Chair of the CDN from Channel 4 in January 2011.

BBC Press Office