Ten content boss: Pilot Week reporting was saddening because of the women behind the scenes

The programming boss of Ten has addressed the controversy over the network’s all-male Pilot Week lineup a week after the row first blew up.

In a piece published on the media company’s Ten Daily website on Friday, chief content officer Beverley McGarvey said that although three narrative comedy projects involving women were “in development” none of them were ready in time. 

The network’s Pilot Week sees several new formats aired, with viewer reaction deciding if they get full commissions.

All eight pilot episodes are fronted by men including Ten regular Rove McManus and radio presenter Kyle Sandilands. The gender imbalance was first called out by Triple M drive host Jane Kennedy.

Ten had previously declined to comment on the furore.

McGarvey: Response was ‘saddening’

In her piece, McGarvey said she found the reaction to the all-male Pilot Week “saddening” because she had been excited about the concept. She argued that the wider ensemble casts of some of the shows, and many of the behind the scenes staff, were women. She wrote:

“I started this week thoroughly excited.

“We have been planning Pilot Week since late last year after we announced it at our Upfronts, and after countless pitches from all sectors of the industry, we finally had to draw the line and make some announcements. We could not wait to talk about our brand new shows.

“Unfortunately, the response to our Pilot Week announcement was instead saddening, although I must admit Kitty Flanagan’s The Weekly sketch was very funny.”

The Pilot week blunder was also lampooned by the ABC’s Tonightly show:

McGarvey said she was also disappointed at the way Pilot Week has been covered by the media. She wrote: “The reaction has been particularly disappointing for the many people involved in the shows we have announced, considering the dialogue at present has not addressed the fantastic effort on their behalf.”

She said: “In areas where women are under-represented, like narrative comedy, we actively spent time looking for female voices and, in fact, are fortunate to have found three amazing and clever concepts that are in active development. Narrative comedy, however, has a long lead time and those shows will not make it in time for Pilot Week in 2018. We did not mention this in the media release announcing our Pilot Week concept. It appears we probably should have.”

She said that network should also have given the press images of the full casts, not just the men fronting them. She wrote: “We also should have provided some artwork to go with the shows that reveal their full casts, particularly for the ensemble shows. This is a mistake we will not make again.”

She added:

“At Network Ten, I work in a leadership team of seven that includes four women. Half of the creative leads in the team I manage are women. Ten is absolutely packed full of amazing, creative, talented and experienced broadcasters and creatives, female and male, on and off-screen, including a lead female News presenter in every state.

When we are casting shows we absolutely do consider gender and diversity issues and we work hard to create a platform across our three linear channels and two digital platforms that is truly diverse.

Sixty-two percent of Ten’s audience is female, more than any other primary channel. We make a concerted effort to offer content that not only caters to this audience, but to all audiences, and we will continue to do that.”


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