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Flemish television needs more diversity, says Youth Council

Credit: Pikrepo

The Flemish Youth Council has launched a campaign to ask for more diversity in the portrayal of young people on television.

The campaign, #KijkNaarOns (“LookAtUs”), wants to draw attention to the fact that many young people think that they are not represented enough, or accurately, on television.

From conversations with more than 1,000 children and young people, many feel like television series do not show an accurate representation of their lives.

In October 2019, the Youth Council formulated an extensive “Advice for representation in the media.” That has now been used to create eight concrete tips that media makers can use to work with. The tips are distributed via social media in short videos, and range from very concrete immediately applicable ones, to tips that require a greater investment:

Count how often you show people from a target group.
Look beyond the clichés.
Show and tell all the nuances and opinions of a story.
Avoid stereotypical language.
Let young people help determine how they are portrayed.
Make your own network as diverse as possible.
Be diverse on and behind the camera.
Ensure a strong diversity policy.

In one of the videos, it is made clear that per 100 minutes of television, only 1 minute shows someone with a disability, while 10% to 15% of the population has one.

The Council noticed that many people pointed to international streaming services and platforms like Netflix, when talking about diversity.

“Children and young people compare what they see on Flemish TV to what they see on Netflix and YouTube, where they see a lot more diversity than on classic television,” said Alexandra Smarandescu, chairman of the Council, reports VRT. “The most important tip we can give to media creators is to involve the young people themselves as much as possible in how they are portrayed,” she added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times