News 2008 News ->'BBC controlled by white cultural
controlled by white cultural elite'
By Dipankar De Sarkar, London, June 27, 2008 (IANS)
senior Indian-origin director at the BBC has accused
the corporation of packing the television screen
with black and Asian faces while reserving positions
of real power for a white cultural
30 years of trying, the upper reaches of our industry,
the positions of real creative power in British
broadcasting, are still controlled by a metropolitan,
largely liberal, white, middle class, cultural
elite - and, until recently, largely male and
largely Oxbridge," said Samir Shah, an independent
producer and non-executive director at the BBC.
told an audience of television insiders
at the Royal Television Society Thursday
that black and Asian people were embarrassed
by the tick-box approach of
BBC bosses. The plain fact is that
this tick-box approach to equal opportunities
has led to an inauthentic representation
of who we are: a world of deracinated coloured
people flickering across our screens - to
the irritation of many viewers and the embarrassment
of the very people such actions are meant
not forget that the UK is still 90 percent
white. Not everyone lives in London or the
West Midlands, he said in reference
to the two most ethnically diverse regions
instance of what he described as the fine
intentions of equal opportunities
going wrong was when the BBC decided to
introduce an Asian family in the popular
and long-running television soap, "Eastenders".
The serial is set in the East End of London,
a neighbourhood that is home to a steadily
growing and large population of Bangladeshis,
but the BBC decided to introduce the Indian-origin
you were to cast an Asian family in the
East End, it should have been Bangladeshi.
Instead we had a family of Goan descent,"
said the reason there were so few executives
from ethnic minority backgrounds in broadcasting
was because managers liked to "clone"
themselves when picking other senior staff.
"The search for comfort can take precedence
over the search for the best, because cultural
cloning carries no immediate cost,"
said that when recruiting new senior staff,
managers should think about the diversity
of their team. He added that if he had a
"magic wand", he would "make
it incumbent on every major broadcaster
and producer in the UK that, within five
years, they need to demonstrate that their
team of executives with real power over
airtime or commissioning budgets come from
a variety of different backgrounds, life
experiences and ethnicity".