The Role of Gender in Audiovisual Media Regulation

A Comparative Overview of Austria and Poland

Von Essraa Ahmed, Esther Buchas, Julia Kastl, Katrin Kogler, Marija Mitrovic, Eliana Moldovanska, Kristina Perica, Rebekka Reinig, Lucie Slapakova und Laura Stuchly


“Dass man Richtlinien hat, heißt nicht und das wissen Sie sehr gut, dass man die Richtlinien auch wirklich lebt. Es ist auch sehr oft das Gegenteil so, was nicht gegen Richtlinien sprechen soll. (…) Es darf nur nicht dazu führen, dass es ein hohles Instrument gibt, das dann in der Praxis keine Anwendung findet.“ (Schweizer) (“This research report conducts an in-depth look into the role of gender in audio-visual media. Regulations set by Austria were explored and furthermore a focus on the activities of ERGA and EPRA was placed. Finally, a comparison between Austria and Poland was drawn since they both exhibit different approaches to gender regulation. 

Since there still are a lot of gender issues in the media industry, a closer look into gender was conducted: from representation of women in the media to discrimination at workplaces, based on gender. Furthermore, through the growing space of the digital world, new problems in gender equality have arisen.

When it comes to audio-visual media regulation, it is important to understand the reasons why regulation is necessary in the first place. There are three types of regulation: state regulation, co-regulation, and self-regulation. Depending on that, rules are set, monitored, and sanctioned by different actors. Media regulation covers different policies of the media, which play an essential role in fulfilling social interest. Regarding reasons for media regulation, three areas can be located: democracy, economy, and culture.

In this research report, a methodical mix of various research instruments was conducted, including a complex policy analysis. Here, problems and goals regarding inequality, as well as arguments in this debate were examined. Implementations of the policy were analysed afterwards. To discuss and extend these findings, interviews were conducted: a stakeholder interview with Susanne Lackner, a member of the regulatory authorities RTR and KommAustria. Furthermore, an expert interview with Corinne Schweizer, a senior researcher at the University of Zurich, took place. Her research interest focuses on media regulation as well as gender debates. Finally, a document analysis through best practices in Europe was conducted, as well as general literary research on this topic.

Important findings were discovered in the comparison between Austria and Poland. Based on equality distribution of gender in the media space, it was clear to see that Austria provides more equality than Poland, which only has few female representations in the media space. Furthermore, Poland does not give their women full access in the media. Finally, the research has shown that Austria did not participate in the projects, aiming to lessen discrimination against women in the media, set up by the regulator groups EPRA and ERGA.

There is still a significant research gap regarding gender mainstreaming in audio-visual media regulation. Based on the findings of this report, it can be stated that gender equality has not been achieved sufficiently in media regulation. Both interview partners expressed the difficulty of the research topic gender mainstreaming because of the lack of research in that field. That is why more public, medial and scientific attention needs to be drawn to the issue.

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