Mass media research on the portrayal of older people has primarily focused on television series and advertisements. News programmes on television have received little attention. We argue that viewers perceive characters on the news as more direct and more accurate representations of social reality than fictional characters, and therefore portrayals on the news are more likely to be integrated in viewers’ stereotypes about elderly people or used as standards of comparison. In order to explore potential differences in the representation of senior men and women, we conducted a quantitative content analysis on a sample of 754 elderly people who appeared on the evening news programmes of four major Hungarian television channels with high viewership. Each character was coded in terms of 115 qualitative variables. Our results indicate that older men are portrayed significantly more often than women as affluent, elegant, knowledgeable, powerful and actively working. By contrast, women are more commonly shown as kind, family-oriented, in ordinary roles (e.g. as the ‘woman in the street’) and engaged in less-productive activities such as shopping. Based on previous research on the role of mass media in the socialisation process as well as social comparison theory, we discuss how these imbalances in the representation of older men and women may affect viewers of different age groups, genders and social status.