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Italian broadcaster wants gender-based TV channels: ‘Rambo obviously appeals to men’

Reiss Smith April 19, 2019
Sylvester Stallone as Rambo

Sylvester Stallone as Rambo (PH)

Rai, the Italian state broadcaster, has stoked controversy with plans to create TV channels based around heteronormative gender stereotypes.

Under the plans there would be one channel aimed at men, airing films such as Rambo, with a separate service for women.

Amid an instant backlash, a source told The Guardian: “There are lots of channels that are targeted according to age and gender. Take, for example, the film Rambo. It’s obvious that this would appeal more to a male audience.”

“There are lots of channels that are targeted according to age and gender.”

The source added that the idea was to allow advertisers to target audiences more effectively, and called the row “ridiculous.”

“This plan is not intended to discriminate. It never came to mind to create a channel about sewing or one called Rai Men and another called Rai Woman. That would be offensive.”

Italian leaders criticise plans

Vladimir Luxuria, an Italian actor and LGBT+ who became Europe’s first openly trans MP in 2006, has called for a boycott of Rai should the plans go ahead.

She told PinkNews: “This plan seems quite antiquated to me. We live in a time where gender shouldn’t preclude women from being astronauts (like the Italian, Samantha Cristoforetti), truck drivers or political leaders.

“Do we need a specific channel for women? Would it be a channel with romance movies, kitchen shows and gossip? Taste overcomes gender, so why not let audiences decide what they want to watch regardless of gender.”

USIGRai, the Italian journalists’ union, said in a statement that the “division on the basis of gender is unacceptable and risks opening up the door to the worst stereotypes.”

Salvatore Margiotta, a Democratic senator, called the proposals “frankly incomprehensible.”

“As we try to overcome gender discrimination, in 2019, having one public channel that is dedicated to a female audience and another to a male audience is crazy. But it seems to be in line with the subculture of this government,” he said.

“Having one public channel that is dedicated to a female audience and another to a male audience is crazy.”

—Salvatore Margiotta, Italian senator

It was first reported on Friday (April 19) that Rai would reorganise its content along gender lines to replace two ailing channels: Rai Movie and Rai Premium.

While the stations bring in a reported €30m (£26m) in annual advertising revenue, they both suffer from low ratings.

Rai is part-funded by an annual television license, with the remainder of its budget coming from advertising sales.

This isn’t the first time that Italian media has come under fire for archaic views on gender and sexuality.

In January, the newspaper Libero ran a headline which appeared to link economic decline with an increase in LGBT+ people.

More: Europe, Italy

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