Harman investigates mystery of missing older women TV presenters

Broadcasting chiefs face a dressing-down from Harriet Harman  in the Commons later, after it emerged just 18% of television presenters over the age of 50 are women.

The Labour deputy leader will use a roundtable event in parliament to call for more steps to even up the gender gap between men and women on our television screens.

She will accuse the six main broadcasters of ageism and sexism as she presents them with the figures. They show 30% of on-screen presenters are over the age of 50 and that 82% of them are men.

Channel 5 and ITN were the worst broadcasters, with 100% of their over-50 presenters being men. Sky News was not far behind, with just nine per cent of its over-50 presenters being women.

“The figures provided by broadcasters show clearly that once female presenters hit 50, their days on-screen are numbered," Harman said.

"There is a combination of ageism and sexism that hits women on TV that doesn't apply to men in the same way.

“It is an encouraging first step that broadcasters have been open in providing these statistics. Their response shows that they all recognise that this is an important issue that needs to be addressed."

Harman has pledged to publish the figures on an annual basis. They will help inform the Labour party's Older Women's Commission, whose chair Miriam O'Reilly will be looking for answers when the roundtable takes place later today.

"These figures raise the obvious questions of where have all the older women gone and why did they go?" she asked.

"Was it their choice to leave their jobs or was it a decision forced upon them?"