Minister’s call on media diversity

Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Television and the media should be more diverse but writing minimum targets into the new BBC charter would not work, the Culture Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid said he would not want to encourage tokenism and praised moves by BBC director-general Tony Hall to increase black and ethnic minority talent on the airwaves.

Mr Javid made his remarks on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme in an interview conducted by guest editor Lenny Henry, who suggested that such a clause should be written into the new charter to “make it happen”.

He said: “I wish it was as easy as that, but I don’t think something like that in itself would achieve the desired results.

“The concern I would have is when you have an approach where it’s about reaching a quota or a certain number and it becomes an official target or requirement then you always run this risk someone might try to fill that just for the sake of filling it.

“I think the problem is more profound. It’s not just about having the black face or the brown face – it’s about building a sustainable pipeline of talent and naming sure people from all backgrounds, and that background in particular, think of this as a career opportunity for them.”

The minister said he “couldn’t say” what should or should not be considered in the next BBC charter because it was not due for consideration until after the next election.

He added: “I think it is sufficient to say, when the charter review happens, all these kinds of issues need to be looked at but it would be wrong for me to say this is the way to do it or that’s what they should look at.”

Mr Javid laughed off suggestions that he could be Britain’s Barack Obama but told the programme he hoped that his presence and that of other MPs from diverse backgrounds in Parliament would inspire children.

He said: “Every Monday morning we get lots of school groups visiting Parliament, I see lots of young kids, and sometimes you see a school where most of the kids, when you look at it visibly, they are either mostly Asian kids or other ethnic minority kids.

“I would like to think, when they look at Parliament, when they watch a debate, when they see me or they see Diane Abbott, they actually look and think ‘You know what, putting politics aside, these people look like me so I could have that job one day’.

“I hope it in some way inspires them.”

This morning’s edition featured a number of guest additions to the on-air talent, to create the first all-ethnic minority presentation team for the Today programme.

Regular presenter Mishal Husain was joined by Nkem Ifejika, with Reeta Chakrabarti reading the news, and Jay Wynne presenting the weather. Linda Yueh was handling the business news while Karthi Gnanasegaram presented the sport.

Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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