Less Than Half Of The ‘Most Powerful’ People In Media Are Women

The Hollywood Reporter released its annual 35 Most Powerful People In Media list and only 10 women made it. But on a positive note three women made it into the top 10 spots (Arianna Huffington, Barbara Walters and Anne Curry) and they were joined by Dianne Sawyer and Katie Couric , putting five women in the top 20 seats. Still less than half of the list was made up of ladies.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s second annual Power List honors the anchors, executives, late-night impresarios and media moguls who drive the news cycle, influence the entertainment industry, take us into the lives of the famous (and infamous) and keep us connected to our world, according to THR.

Matt Lauer graces the cover of the THR issue after his 36-hour Today show negotiation will make him the highest paid anchor in television history at a salary of $17 million a year. I can’t say for sure if there is a substantial pay gap with these top talents, especially considering Katie Couric left Today for a five-year, $65 million contract with CBS News, but Lauer will be the highest-paid. Brian Williams, host of NBC’s “Nightly News,” earns $13 million annually–$1 million more than ABC’s World News host Diane Sawyer. Anderson Cooper’s new deal with Time Warner–which includes “AC 360″ and his daytime talk show, “Anderson”–is worth $11 million a year (but he does have three jobs so let’s give him credit.) Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who hosts the top-rated show on cable news, gets $10 million per year. Regis left Live! With Regis and Kelly (Kelly Ripa  made the list) because reportedly he didn’t want to take a cut in his $15 million salary.

The list did include every top female newscaster (Robin Roberts, Curry, Katie Couric, Walters, Sawyer, Mika Brzenski, Rachel Maddows) but the reason there were more men was simply because men run the major news networks and divisions. Ben Sherwood is President of ABC News, James Goldston is the Senior Vice President of content and development for ABC News, Jeff Fager is Chairman of CBS News, Phil Griffin is President of MSNBC, Roger Ailes is CEO and Chairman of Fox News and Steve Capus is President of NBC News. So obviously we need to get a woman to be head of a news network stat. But there are a number of very talented female news producers out there yet only Jim Bell, Executive Producer of The Today Show and 2012 London Olympics was recognized.

The problem is there are just simply less women in TV news production. According to the National Organization for Women, while slightly more than half of local television news anchors are now women, women still make up only 28% of local news directors and 16% of the general managers at TV stations that air local news. It was only in 2006 that CBS hired Katie Couric making her the first female solo anchor of a weekday network evening news broadcast and the program’s managing editor.  On primetime cable news programs, more than three-quarters of the hosts are white men and less than a quarter are white women.

As someone who began their career in cable news, I am surprised by this as I felt like most of the producers I worked with were strong, powerful women. But even at the top of an industry, there are just less women. And it’s just not on the newsmaking side of television. Women comprised only 15% of writers on the prime-time dramas, comedies and reality shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW in 2011, down from 29% in the 2009-10 season, according to the report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

Non-straight news hosts like Wendy Williams made the list as well as Kelly Ripa (who despite Regis’s departure has made Live! the top syndicated talker among the coveted women 25-to-54 demo.) It should also be noted that Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski tied for her spot with  Joe Scarborough.

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