In television contests you don’t see presenters

The premiere, last Friday night, of El Desafío on Antena 3 (22.4% audience share, 3,302,000 presenters) crowned a cycle of new contests in unusually strategic spots on the grid for generalist networks and in a infrequently short term. It had started in February 2020, with El Cazador de La 1, followed by the new Pasapalabra in May on Antena 3 and Divididos, on La Sexta in December. They all hope to share rank with the consecrated titles of their stripes, such as Boom, Now I Fall, The Wheel of Luck or Know and Win. And most already have at least one thing in common with them: their presenters are men.

Although Divididos is led by Luján Argüelles, Pasapalabra and El Desafío are in the hands of Roberto Leal and El Cazador, by Ion Aramendi, in the same way as ¡Boom! It is presented by Juanra Bonet, Now I Fall, Arturo Valls, La roulette de la luck Jorge Fernández and To know and win, for an eternity, Jordi Hurtado. If this new batch of programs has revealed something, it is that entertainment has become the land of men. « To present a contest, you are looking for either someone funny or someone with a lot of authority, » Luján Argüelles explains by phone, on his way to the set of Divididos. “Neither of those two things seems to be related to being a woman. And that’s why they don’t hire us ”.

It will not be for lack of evidence that women know how to run a successful program. The most successful contest on Spanish television – in circumstances very different from the current ones -, Uno, dos, tres … Responda otra vez, was in the hands of Mayra Gómez Kemp during its six greatest years, who also led La roulette de la fortuna before Irma Soriano (both in 1990), Mabel Lozano (1991-1992) and Belén Rueda (1992). Never again did that program, which is still on the air today, had a presenter (yes co-presenters, a position where women are much more frequent). Pasapalabra was premiered by Silvia Jato in 2000 and it was there until 2006: again, a woman would never take the lead again. There are other examples (that 3×4 by Julia Otero, Waku Waku with Consuelo Berlanga and Nuria Roca, Password with Ana Milan, Give me a clue with Argüelles…), but not so many in recent times.

“The number of women at the forefront of entertainment has gotten worse. It does not seem accurate to me to speak of machismo, because television, more than sexist, is male. The look it offers is very masculine, « argues specialized journalist Mariola Cubells, who was a scriptwriter for entertainment programs. That look is in the management leadership also on the part of women. Because there are sending them on television, in fiction, in entertainment … ”. And yet there are a series of inertias that remain unchanged, and that, if neglected, can give results like these seasons. For example, that men project more grace or authority, as Argüelles said, and that, as the journalist Alicia Gómez Montano said, at age 40 they disappear from the image.

« More than the number of presenters, it is convenient to look at the quality », adds Carolina Pecharroman, RTVE’s equality editor. “On television the same patterns are always repeated, in body diagrams, especially with thin women; in ages, even with hair, which is always straight ”. Here Cubells is somewhat more explicit: “I always say: if you look at TV there are no ugly women. Ugly manual. Even, let’s say, normal. You will not find women comparable to the very normal guys who present news. The message that is sent is tremendous ”.

Precisely because RTVE has an Equality portal, it is easy to see that entertainment has lagged behind the news, where the numbers of the public add up in a more reasonable way. In the latest published report, corresponding to the 2019-2020 season. The delivery is almost total in the 24 Hours channel, where, if all the shifts are added, 7 women and 6 men appear presenting. In the sum of News and Sports, the parity is similar. The same happens with tertualianos and tertulianas. The (now deceased) Breakfasts of TVE had 746 invited guests last season. 319 were women and 427 men (43% compared to 57%). In the other great gathering of the house, La Noche de 24 Horas, there were 50.8% of women in the debates in the same period of time. After the arrival of the coronavirus, 53.3% more women than men.

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