News networks have come under fire in the UK after being accused of "low-level sexism" by having male presenters always sit on the left, with females on their right.

A Daily Mail report suggested most UK news shows always featured this seating arrangement, with a senior male newsreader backed by a younger female co-presenter.

"In the vast majority of presenting duos, the man is automatically placed in the favoured 'camera left' position, pushing him higher up the pecking order," said the report.

But a quick survey of New Zealand news channels reveals that's not necessarily the case here.


On TV3, Hilary Barry always sits on the left of Mike McRoberts, and a trawl through the Herald's photo archives reveals she's always done so.

But on Story, Duncan Garner always sits on the left of co-host Heather du Plessis-Allan.

Barry said there was no network policy about who sat where at the TV3 newsdesk.

"Our news-desk is an equal opportunity news-desk where neither left nor right sitting presenter is in a favoured position. There is no policy at Mediaworks as to what side male and female presenters sit," she said.

"To be honest, when Mike and I first started reading the news together we just sat on the side that felt most comfortable to us. We even talked about changing seats on our new Newshub set but it just didn't feel right."

Over at TV One, Simon Dallow often sits on the left of Wendy Petrie during One News, as does Mike Hosking with Toni Street on Seven Sharp.

But TVNZ's editor of content for One News Graeme Muir says there are "no hard and fast rules".

"We've had presenters on Breakfast sit on the opposite side through the years, so where they sit now is certainly not a conscious decision and it's not based on any notion of 'pre-eminence' [that seems to be at work at the BBC]," he says.

Muir said the decision was often left up to their presenters, citing Petra Bagust sitting on the left of Corin Dann and Rawdon Christie during her stint on Breakfast.

"It's a bit like who sleeps on which side of the bed - once you've settled on sides you don't tend to swap! That's because viewers do subconsciously get used to seeing their presenters in the same spot. No-one notices this until the day you change - and then you can guarantee they'll not only notice but they'll let you know pretty damn smart."

In the UK, a senior ITV executive told the Daily Mail "camera left" was the position of authority because "the eye goes left to right".

But a BBC source claimed the decision was made based on the best camera angles for each presenter.