Story at a glance

  • CMT announced that it will start giving equal airtime to male and female country music artists as of Jan. 21.
  • The policy replaces a previous one that divided airtime for country music videos 60 to 40 for male and female artists, respectively.
  • The announcement follows criticisms of the country music industry for gender inequality in treatment and pay.

Nearly 60 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, Country Music Television (CMT) is promising equal play to female country musicians. 

In a statement released on Twitter, the television channel said that male and female country music artists would get equal air time of music videos on CMT and its sister channel CMT Music.   

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The 50-50 split would replace a previous policy of a 60 to 40 split between male and female artists, respectively, according to NPR News. It comes after years of gender inequality in the music genre. 

A recent study found that only 16 percent of top country songs from 2014 to 2018 were by female artists, whose ages skewed younger — 35 and younger — showing a particular bias against older women. There were even fewer songwriters, 12 percent across 200 songs. The findings came after a second year of all-male nominees for the Academy of Country Music's Entertainer of the Year award in 2019. Carrie Underwood was nominated for the award in 2019, but lost in favor of Garth Brooks, who received the award for the third time in a row and seventh in total. 

"We're not saying every female artist and every single song from a female artist should be played," Leslie Fram, senior vice president of music strategy for CMT, told NPR. "We're saying, let's have an equal playing field and let the fans decide."

On Twitter, Fram indicated that more changes were coming for the channel owned by ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks. 

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Time is really up. All the talk about what can be done to support females in country music needs to transform into action. Starting tomorrow @CMT pledges 50/50 video airplay on CMT & CMT Music during video hours. More announcements soon!#CMTEqualPlay https://t.co/y6RT0R3oOy

Published on Jan 21, 2020