IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE IN THIS DAY AND AGE, but only two women own and operate TV networks in the United States. One of them is Oprah Winfrey, and the other is Daphna Ziman. Ziman is the President, co-founder, and Chief Creative Officer of Cinémoi, a multi-genre network with content skewed towards a female audience. Ziman spoke with Lady Clever about opening the door for other women in media and the television industry, why women are underrepresented in her field, and television’s role in the upcoming Presidential election.
What originally lead you to the television industry?
I came to this country because America was the mecca of communication to the entire world, and I grew up with American television. In recent years I have witnessed American Television deteriorate, so I wanted to raise the bar on quality and conscience. I also wanted to lift the image of women in television.
Is it difficult for women to succeed in the media and television industries?
Very difficult. I’m the only woman major shareholder of a TV network. “Gender diversity” is at stake. Women are the backbone of the family and the country. Yet, women are still being treated as the minority, particularly in business.
Are women like Megyn Kelly, who do become successful in the TV industry, anomalies?
Yes. It takes guts and hard work, plus a lot of support to rise to the top. Megyn Kelly exudes confidence, which is a major magnet.
What does it mean to you to be one of only two women to own a network?
It means that I must open the door wide open for other women to come through the closed barriers.
Why do you think the number of women who do is so small?
The television, cable, and satellite businesses are controlled by six media giants, and every one of these major businesses is controlled by a white man. The boys’ club is alive and well, but underestimated. Men tend to support men. Women are not as good at supporting each other.
Oprah is the only other woman in the U.S. in a similar position. What’s it like to be in that kind of company?
I take gender diversity very seriously. It is crucial to inspire women to tackle the impossible task of being leaders in the entertainment industry, while still building a family, participating in the community and be supportive partners in life.
Not only are you the only two women to own networks, but you’re both minorities. Do you feel like you have a responsibility to succeed so other women can follow in your footsteps?
I do feel the responsibility to lead the way for other women and to break through the barriers. We must all stand up in support of any minorities. After all, America is the land of diversity.
What can we do to improve the representation of women in high-powered jobs in the TV industry?
We need to insist that the FCC and the congress establish the requirement for minorities and women to have a seat at the cable satellite industry table. We need to demand diversity in media, particularly gender diversity.
You’ve been quoted as saying: “Every owner of a television network and every cable operator is a gatekeeper to the communication media. As such, we all carry a fiduciary responsibility to the public. Cinémoi’s number one priority is to broadcast innovative and quality programming to our viewers.” How do you do this with Cinémoi?
Curation. Every viewing moment on Cinémoi is curated. We all should recognize the privilege that we are given to deliver content to the public. It’s a trust we cannot undermine.
What is your process like for choosing the content Cinémoi develops?
Our choices begin with research. We are always seeking great stories, great performances, style, beauty, and distinction.
You’re involved in the current Presidential election. Do you find there’s a difference in media coverage between Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump?
Yes. Donald Trump adds to sensationalized media. Hillary Clinton falls into the category of “adversity sells.” This election has fallen into the biggest “Reality TV show” on earth. Donald Trump knows the basic rule of reality TV: shock and awe.
Is a sexist element at play, or is it because Trump had ties to the TV industry prior to this?
It’s actually the media giants’ obsession with ratings. Unfortunately, the media giants promote adversity. When the focus is only on ratings based on provoking a negative mindset from the viewers, you end up sacrificing accuracy and quality.
Sounds like the boys club is about to be broken up if Daphna can do anything about it!