| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES "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.
"Just one of ideas on the table is to let the judges vote," Warwick said, but added, "I am pretty sure we won't be putting anything into practice until next year."
Ballad singer Toscano, 22, was eliminated on April 8, moving Lopez to tears and stunning the 25 million strong "Idol" audience.
"American Idol", now in its 10th season on Fox television, has produced bona-fide stars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Oscar-winning actress-singer Jennifer Hudson.
But in recent years, the public has chosen white, male middle of the road singers as the champion, although few have been able to translate their victory into top-selling albums.
(Editing by Christine Kearney)