Lack of diversity in media is an ongoing problem for Australian television. The Logie Awards on Sunday were a testament to just how much of an issue the lack of diversity is. The 2020 report ‘Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories?’ published by Media Diversity Australia highlights that “none of the commercial networks (Channels 7, 9 and 10) had more than 5% of presenters, commentators and reporters, who were identified as having a non-European background”. In light of Logies 2022, the question we’re all asking is: why hasn’t Australian television gotten its shit together?
Lack of POC Nominees and Winners
This year winners of every single Logie category except for one, were white. Tony Armstrong, an ABC journalist and proud Barranbinya man, received the Graham Kennedy Award for the Best New Talent. Only five out of the fifty-five nominations for the Logies being BIPOC personalities. MasterChef’s presenter Melissa Leong was nominated twice, first for the Gold Logie Award and second for the Most Popular Presenter – neither of which she won. Hamish Blake, presenter of Lego Masters, who was nominated for the same categories as Leong won both the Gold Logie Award and the inaugural Bert Newton award for Most Popular Presenter.
However, criticism of the whitewashed Logies is not to say that those who won on Sunday night are not deserving of the recognition they received. Nor is it to say that Tony Armstrong’s win of Best New Talent is insignificant. As Osman Faruqi explains, writing for the Brisbane Times,
“When Australians who aren’t white make up 24 percent of the population but a vastly smaller proportion of those on TV, and an even smaller of those rewarded with nominations and awards, it should be a wake-up call.”
Acknowledgement of Country?
While Australian television has begun reflecting the rich cultural experiences of Australia, it was not so at the Logies. The simple yet powerful act of acknowledging country has become a standard for formal ceremonies across most Australian institutions. Yet this was missing from the Logies. The only acknowledgement of country is Tony Armstrong’s award acceptance. This oversight indicates the structural and political barriers ingrained within commercial networks and media outlets. Barriers such as these influence decision-making processes regarding visibility and recognition of on-screen diversity.
Acknowledging the traditional owners of Australian land is imperative in cultivating an environment that fosters cultural exchange and celebration. Remembering and reflecting on Australia’s colonial history is the first step in breaking down present structural and cultural barriers. The Logies failed to do their part.
It would be easy to believe that a lack of BIPOC winners on Sunday is simply the decision of the voting public. But, the reality is that the Logie nomination and decision-making processes are not clear. Yes, the Australian public has a say but even before the voting, a panel of industry experts decide who the nominees are.
The basis of this decision is reportedly the average TV ratings and subjective scores given by the experts. Who are these experts? What aspects factor into their subjective scores? Are the industry experts reflective of the diversity within Australian audiences and media? These are questions we do not have answers to. In short, this means we don’t know where and with whom the decision-making power lies.
To sum up, what it comes down to is this: Australian television needs to get its sh*t together. The broadening of Australian storytelling needs to occur. We need to include diverse stories and storytellers. And it needs to reflect in our ceremonial and institutional acknowledgements. Doing their part in recognising and supporting diverse Australian television is a must for the Logies as a new generation of creatives flourish in Australian media.
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