Recent decisions see TV taking a female focus

ITV has announced plans to launch a new female-focused channel called ITVBe.

ITV has announced plans to launch a new female-focused channel called ITVBe. The new channel will target a younger, female audience, focusing on reality and entertainment programming, aimed at 16 to 34-year-olds.

Scheduling will include reality shows, panel formats, and comedy and drama series.

ITVBe will become the home of shows such as Real Housewives and ITV’s award winning series The Only Way is Essex, which launched the success of stars including Mark Wright, Mario Falcone and Amy Childs.

Peter Fincham, Director of Television at ITV, said that the new channel will give viewers “access to even more great content” as part of ITV’s family of channels. 

“We identified an opportunity to develop what is currently part of the ITV2 schedule – reality and non-scripted shows, which are very popular with young women and housewives with kids – into a distinct channel proposition, aimed more squarely at that audience,” Fincham said.

The new channel will be free-to-air, funded by ads and sponsorships, available on major platforms including Freeview, Sky and Virgin towards the end of this year.  

This comes in contrast to the recent announcement for a paid subscription channel, ITV Encore, showcasing British drama series. ITVBe will sit alongside other ITV channels including the predominantly male focused ITV4.

Programmes reflect value of channel?

Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV: said: “ITVBe will be a terrific new addition to our family of channels. It reinforces our plan to maximise audiences and revenues from our broadcasting business…this is another important step forward in our strategy to become the most watched, most loved and most talked about family of free and pay channels for every household and every advertiser in the UK.”

The announcement from ITV follows the female-focused plans of BBC boss Danny Cohen, banning male-dominated panel shows.

“We’re not going to have panel shows any more with no women on them. You can’t do that. It’s not acceptable,” said Cohen.

In the past, comedy panel shows like QI, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, have been criticised for their male-dominated line-ups. Filming of future BBC panel shows will have to include at least one female participant.

However, there is still criticism that the act of a ‘token’ woman is not enough to over-come the ‘boys’ game’ of comedy panel shows. The voices of Caitlin Moran, Victoria Wood and Jo Brand are amongst those criticising the “testosterone-fuelled” shows. 

The values represented by the female skewed ITVBe are also being questioned, with the focus on housewifery as entertainment and reality shows famed for the values of fake-tans and Vajazzles.

Is this really what women want?

Such cases of positive-discrimination just serve to highlight the issue at hand. The gender distinction of TV shows (and now channels) reflects social attitudes towards women, both as presenters and viewers.

Why are men so highly valued for their comedic value, while women are being secluded for their values as housewives? These dynamics and social stereotypes which infiltrate onto our screens need to be broken down with more than token offerings.

What do you think of the launch of ITVBe and the announcement by the BBC? Have your say in the comments section below.