International Women’s Day marks the launch of ‘Project Access’, a cross-industry initiative to improve opportunities for women professionals to enter and progress in sports broadcast, supported by numerous leading international organisations.

An initial impact is being made by HBS, IMG, the English Football League (EFL) and Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT), with tangible progress already in view. 

Later this month a deserving woman participant at the ‘Live Sports Direction’ course held at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), in partnership with HBS’ training unit, the Broadcast Academy, will be selected and given the opportunity to direct a live EFL match this season at IMG’s production HQ in Stockley Park, near London’s Heathrow Airport. Opportunities like these will be a game-changer in bringing more women to the forefront. 

“We are proud to endorse Project Access and to offer support to further the cause,” explained Russell Byrne, Head of Digital, EFL.

Building on those foundations, ‘Project Access’ aims to bring on board more industry partners to develop a larger network upon which to position opportunities for further progress across different regions and at other major sporting events.

“’Project Access’ is about taking the next step,” stated Dan Miodownik, CEO of HBS. “During the course of 2019 we have seen clear advancements taken by some of our Academy graduates and we want to increase these success stories by encouraging wider involvement across the broadcast industry. It is great to have the support of the industry, and partners like FFT, IMG and EFL, from the start. The more organisations who are on board with this initiative, and helping us to create a platform for talented women in the industry, the faster we will reach the goal of a more equal workforce.”

Premier League Productions are also committed to join as supporting partners to offer content and various means of assistance to the endeavour, with the Sports Video Group (SVG) collaborating as a media partner.

The initiative approaches the challenge of womens’ under-representation in the broadcast industry from three angles. Firstly, through greater access to training: scholarships and bursaries will allow for selected participants – either from the industry partners’ personnel or independent applicants – to attend industry-led training sessions.

Exceptional candidates identified will be given access to opportunities to work on, or shadow at, major sports events with participating partners, and will be offered longer-term mentorship from experts. 

Thirdly, focusing on the next generation wishing to break into the industry, workshops and talks at media universities and broadcast conventions will open the door to a new audience, with hands-on experience available via the EVS Live TV Simulator and positive reinforcement of the career stories of women broadcast professionals, including those who have graduated from Broadcast Academy courses.

The symbiotic nature of the initiative will, thus, allow an outlet for industry partners to guide upcoming talent in their organisation and also offer an avenue for participants recommended by all partners to progress further after their training sessions.

• To find out how you can participate in ‘Project Access’, please email info@broadcastacademy.net.

Stephen Cook, Director of Content, IMG, said: “Project Access is an important initiative to identify, encourage and promote female production talent. Programmes like this are crucial to ensuring women are well-positioned to shape the future of sports broadcasting, benefitting both the sports themselves and their fans. This has our full backing.”

Already establishing a push towards greater gender equality as one of its key pillars, the Broadcast Academy in partnership with EVS, is proud to have worked with the first women football directors in Cameroon, Jamaica, Iceland and Austria and have held dedicated sessions for women professionals at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam in 2018 and 2019. Aleksandra Fedina, director from Saint Petersburg, Russia, has been offered an all-inclusive ‘shadowing opportunity’ at Roland-Garros in Paris this summer, thanks to the co-operation of the FFT.

“We are delighted to play our part in ‘Project Access’,” Emilie Montané, Director of Media & Production, FFT. “Whether it is through providing content for the training courses or by offering real-world experience to those who have shown their talent, everything we can do to give opportunities that would not normally be easily accessible to women in the industry is an encouraging step forward.”