BBC Appoints new diversity champion

Last week we brought you the story of two Black BBC employees being handed their P45s, but this week we bring you the story of the corporation hiring a new diversity chief. Danny Cohen’s ambition to tackle the diversity of the BBC’s television output has taken a step forward with the appointment of a specialist to lead the push. Deena Saeed has been appointed BBC television’s diversity lead, where she will aim to encourage commissioners and producers to better reflect modern Britain, both on and off screen.

Deena Saeed

The role was created by Cohen, but Saeed was appointed by Charlotte Moore and will report into the BBC1 controller.

She will become diversity lead next month after a spell as outreach manager on Radio 1 and 1Xtra, where she helped deliver new talent initiatives. Her previous roles have included attachments at BBC Learning and BBC London 2012.

“I’m really passionate about making the BBC truly representative of the UK population both inside and out,” Saeed said. “It’s an exciting challenge which presents some fantastic opportunities in terms of future proofing output and how we effectively serve our audiences.”

Moore added: “We need to improve and make faster progress on diversity and I am committed to bringing about tangible change across BBC television. This appointment will lead a push for making real and lasting change in the way the BBC works with both on and off-screen talent.”

We wait to see any tangible results with interest.


 Broadcast and City University launch Diversity Watch

krishnanMeanwhile, Channel 4 News presenter and friend of the TVC Krishnan Guru-Murthy spoke at City University’s Women on Air conference last week, where he announced that the Expert Women monitoring campaign, which is run by the university and supported by TV industry magazine Broadcast, will be extended into a new monthly study, titled Diversity Watch. For the scheme post-graduate City University journalism students will be counting how many black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) experts appear on services including BBC News, Sky News and C4 News. The results will be published every month.

The study will be limited to TV initially, with the students counting ‘visible’ BAME experts. City University revealed the collated results of the Expert Women campaign over the past two years. It showed that male experts outnumbered their female counterparts by four to one. It also revealed that for every three male reporters, there was only one female correspondent.

Guru-Murthy said monitoring of how “visible ethnic minorities” are being involved in current affairs discussions will help improve diversity in UK news. He hopes it will be a stepping stone to tackle employment issues in the industry.

Guru-Murthy argued that he has not seen any “significant improvement on diversity” in his 26 years in broadcasting and that the “gently-does-it” approach had “failed to deliver” change.

The notion of positive discrimination should be embraced, he added, to break down the “unchallenged quota of white, middleclass, middle-aged men”.

“The broadcasting landscape has been socially engineered for decades. How else did we end up with a bizarrely unrepresentative population?” the newsreader asked, adding: “Our ambition should be to reflect the nation we serve. If you want to call that a target, call it a target.”

Guru-Murthy also took aim at the BBC. He claimed that when he worked on Newsnight in the late 1990s there were three ethnic minority reporters, and now there are none. “I don’t see how that is progress,” he said, adding that the notion that Mishal Husain has “transformed the diversity” of the Today programme “doesn’t cut it”.


X-box moves into programme making

Xbox-360-S-ControllerWe’ve been hearing for a while that the games industry is worth more money than the film industry, but now console makers are moving into programme making. According to the Guardian, Channel 4 has struck a deal with Microsoft’s Xbox to remake Swedish sci-fi drama Real Humans, the first time a games console maker has partnered with a UK broadcaster to co-fund a major series.

The deal is the latest sign of the digital shift in how TV shows are funded and watched, with Channel 4 to air the drama exclusively in the UK in 2015 at the same time as Microsoft makes the show available to Xbox owners across North America.

The eight part drama series, called Humans, will be produced by Kudos, maker of The Hour, Broadchurch and The Tunnel.

Filming of the drama series will begin in the summer with the show set to premiere next year.


And finally for Funniest Thing I’ve Seen On-Line This Week.

Friday night on terrestrial TV saw the battle of the chat shows as Graham Norton’s show on BBC went head to head with Allan Carr’s Chatty Man on Channel 4.  In terms of guests, whilst Carr had Noel Edmonds and the judges from Britain’s Got Talent , Norton had the stars of the latest Spiderman movie. Since I’m more of a fan of movies than TV talent shows, I’d say that Norton won the battle.  In case you missed it,  here’s a funny clip of Jamie Foxx (who plays super villain Electron in The Amazing Spiderman 2)  describing working with Tom Cruise.

That’s all for this week, but if you just can’t hang on for seven days to get your next fix of TV  industry news, check our facebook page for daily updates.

Lee Pinkerton