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The BBC chucks £100m of your cash at BLM driven diversity content today but does the data justify it?

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 22 June 2020

We all have to respond to BlackLivesMatter and it is so much easier when you get to do so by spending £100 million of other folks’ cash as the BBC has announced today. The funding will come from the corporation’s existing commissioning budget over three years. It will also be supported by a new mandatory 20% diverse-talent target in all new network commissions from April 2021. It sounds great but I doubt anyone in the media world will look underneath the bonnet at data already out there.

For starters, just how diverse is the talent at the BBC already? Bear in mind that according to the ONS 2% of the population is LGBT, c14% BAME and we know that 47% of the working population is female. According to the Diamond The Third Cut report by the Creative Diversity Network HERE, 26.6% of on-screen representations on the BBC are from people of colour, although only 9.4% of the off-screen roles are filled by BAME folk. 55.8% of on-screen representations were women, while 53.8% of off-screen roles are performed by women. As for the LGBT community at the BBC, 10.7% of on-screen roles were LGBT and 14.7% of those behind the camera were LGBT.

The hard data tells you that the only group hugely under-represented in the media world on or off camera is straight white males.

But who cares about facts or fairness or anything these days, just hail the need for more diversity.

As for the corporation’s diversity talent target, why choose 20%? I just wonder if the BBC might care to explain that? If the BAME Community is only 14%, why is the state-funded media group targeting 20%? There may be a good reason but it is just that the BBC declines to offer it up.

My son is mixed race and will be brought up in a very middle class and privileged household. He is exactly the sort of person who will benefit from this nonsense. I am sure that Joshua will do brilliantly on his own merits as he is a clever young man, although, as he is aged only three, I may be jumping the gun a bit.

But he is the sort of middle-class chap, who just happens to be from an ethnic minority, who would benefit from this added boost in a world, like TV, already overwhelmingly dominated by middle-class kids. Will the BBC’s programme provide massive opportunities for BAME kids from deprived backgrounds? Almost certainly not. If the BBC wants to reflect society at large, what it really needs is a stack more working-class employees of whatever colour. For it is the oiks (of whatever colour) who are sadly missing at the Beeb.

Dr King came to acknowledge that the real problem in America in the 1960s was not a racial divide but an opportunity divide created by poverty. The BBC’s initiatives are, largely, pointless as the data shows they are not actually needed but they will also not assist those who would really benefit from an additional opportunity. Yet these initiatives will cost vast sums, extracted under threat of jail from you and I. Another reason why the BBC is just not fit for purpose.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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