Broadcast: Young women leaving television

Hunt ‘devastated’ by young women leaving television

Jay Hunt has made a plea for young women to persevere in the television industry, adding that she was “devastated” by the number leaving the sector.

The Channel 4 chief creative officer was the guest speaker at High Flyers, the ROAR Global and Cole Kitchen networking event for under-30s.

She told the room: “One of the things I find devastating is the number of women your age leaving the industry, and how many people think: ‘I can’t make it work’. I would encourage all women in the room particularly: please don’t give up.

“It’s massively important to us as a sector that you stay and you keep regarding this as something you can do and can square with a family life.”

Hunt added that it was a “tough industry” for young people in general, but encouraged the room to “stay committed” as persistence would open the doors to a “very big prize”.

That prize, she said, was the opportunity to break into a sector that was becoming “less complicated”.

“I feel you’re in a great place. You only have to look at how the whole sector is blowing up. I think what will happen, and what is happening now, is what you’re watching content on is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It’s all about the quality of content.”

The C4 exec, who joined from the BBC in 2011, stressed the importance of “taking risks”, adding that opportunities to “move sideways” gave her a chance to broaden her experiences and carve out a “luxurious career”.

Hunt said: “The greatest joy you will have from this industry is from taking punts on things you believe in. You’re just as likely to succeed by doing something crazy as you are doing something familiar.”

During the Q&A sector of the event, Hunt was questioned about the ethics of programme titles, specifically Love Productions’ controversial series Benefits Street.

She said that she “subscribed to a greater good argument” and believed the series shone a light on an important topic in modern Britain.

“The show consolidated to 6 million, which for C4 was extremely extraordinary and profound, and got people talking about the underbelly of society. It got people to think about the inequality gap and got us talking about benefits in an important year in the run up to the general election.

“Do you think if we called it Community Street or What It’s Like To Be Poor, anyone would want to watch it? No. Great public service television has got to be sold to an audience.”

(From Broadcast Mag)

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