This is a difficult subject to negotiate my way through, because the minute I raise it I'll be accused of self-promotion. Well, so be it.

In the last 24 hours, we've learned that John Campbell will return to broadcasting in a drive time position with National Radio. In order to accommodate him, the current host, Mary Wilson, will be taken off air.

That's extremely disappointing. Extremely disappointing. We're introducing yet another white male broadcaster to prime time, at the expense of a strong, capable, experienced female interviewer.

Let's look at who's hosting the two prime time slots in this country, breakfast and drive. We've got Mike Hosking, Paul Henry and Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson in a co-host role on National Radio. In drive, you have Larry Williams, Duncan Garner and now John Campbell.


Susie is now the lone female voice in prime time. We have a near-monopoly of white male broadcasters who shape our day, who direct our news agenda, who influence our opinions and perspectives.

Think it doesn't matter? Well, think again.

The perspective a male host takes into an interview is often very, very different to that of a woman. The perspective any of these hosts take into an interview about domestic abuse, sexual violence, or funding cuts to women's refuge will be very different to mine.

And that's partly because of life experiences. I know what it's like, as a woman, to be part of the weaker sex in a physical sense. I understand what leads to battered woman syndrome. I have felt the fear, as many women have, of being followed, intimidated. That gives me a different perspective.

The gender pay gap? Ever heard any of our male broadcasters advocating strongly on the need to close the gender pay gap? No, me neither.

Then there's paid parental leave. Yes, it effects both genders in a financial sense, but it is women who benefit most from paid parental leave.

"It's too expensive" Bill English will tell you. Our business groups, largely fronted by men, will tell you the same. It's a money issue, they say, and that's the end of the interview. What is almost always lost in these interviews is the impact on the health and mental health of mothers and children when a mother is forced to go back to work after a couple of months. And what about the long-term implications of that on society?

The middle east - you have 13.5 million people who need aid just to sustain life right now. How often do you hear about the humanity of the situation? Typically, in prime time, we discuss the 160-odd soldiers we sent to iraq, or we report it from a position of terrorism. And that's where we leave it.


If you think this is a non-issue, then I will ask you this. If you have daughters and grand-daughters growing up, who is shaping their views? Who, in interviews, is advocating on behalf of some of the big issues that will impact on them now and in future?

No-one wins from a media landscape that is literally monopolised by white men. We need gender balance. We need voices for Maori and Pacific Islanders and our Asian community too.

To be a well-rounded society we need a well-rounded media. Right now, prime time is dominated by straight, wealthy, white men. That is not the New Zealand we live in today.

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