"American Idol" mulls voting tweaks to fix boy bias

Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:54pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" producers said on Wednesday they are considering tweaking the voting system on the top-rated TV contest to correct a bias toward male contestants by the show's largely female audience.

But any changes are unlikely to take effect this season, which has already seen the early exit of four female finalists, including presumed front-runner Pia Toscano.

"We are aware very much that the voting could quite possibly be skewed toward the boys," executive producer Ken Warwick told reporters in a conference call.

"It is something we are going to have a long discussion about after we finish this season. We won't be in the process of changing anything at the moment. It is going to go the way it goes," Warwick said.

Warwick said reality TV shows like "American Idol" traditionally attract predominantly female viewers, who then tend to drive telephone, text and online votes toward male contestants.

That bias has resulted in a male singer being crowned the "American Idol" and winning a recording contract, every year since 2008. Jordin Sparks in 2007 was the last woman to win.

Paul McDonald last week became the first man to be booted off the most-watched U.S. television show, leaving just two women -- Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina -- in the running for a shot at reaching the finale in May.

Warwick said one of the changes under consideration was allow the three judges -- Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson -- to vote each week. The judging panel on ABC's popular "Dancing with the Stars" TV contest have their votes counted along with those of viewers.   Continued...

<p>The "American Idol" Final 7. Clockwise from left: Haley Reinhart, James Durbin, Stefano Langone, Jacob Lusk, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Casey Abrams. REUTERS/Michael Becker/FOX</p>