Black Journalist says BBC Is Failing Ethnic Minority Staff

The BBC: Kurt Barling says those below the most senior echelons seem to be 'either defensive and/or in a collective state of denial' on the issue of ethnic minority staff. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters
The BBC: Kurt Barling says those below the most senior echelons seem to be ‘either defensive and/or in a collective state of denial’ on the issue of ethnic minority staff. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

A senior black journalist has accused the BBC of “institutional myopia or inertia” over its employment of ethnic minority staff.

Kurt Barling said the corporation was run by a privately educated elite only fractionally more diverse than when he joined in 1989. Its managers still recruited and promoted in their own image.

Barling, best known for reporting for BBC London, claimed that those below the most senior echelons of the BBC seemed to be either defensive and/or in a collective state of denial on the issue.

His remarks, in an article for the Sunday Times online, follow calls by actor and comedian Lenny Henry for legislation to reverse the “appalling” percentage of black and Asian ethnic minority people (BAME) working in UK television.

The percentage fell between 2006 and 2012, according to figures from the Creative Skillset network, meaning they accounted for just 5.4% of the broadcasting workforce. The BBC employs 12.4% BAME staff. Barling, who worked for the BBC as a freelance, did not have his contract renewed as posts were cut in a bid to make savings. to make £700m savings.

“Over the years I have seen many talented people, black and white, leave the BBC because they weren’t nurtured, respected or valued,” he said.

While BBC London had done better than most parts of the corporation at reflecting diversity, “it’s not just about faces on screen but experience and seniority. Where is the critical mass of BAME journalists in senior decision making, strategic and leadership roles?” said Barling.

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Source: The Guardian | 

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