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.”
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.”
Italian leaders criticise plans
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.
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