Radio 2 is too white, say BBC diversity chiefs: demands urgent improvements to attract non-white listeners

A BBC Review of six stations found it was failing ethnic minority audiences, only 34% of black, Asian and minority ethnic tune into any of stations

The BBC’s radio 2 music services have been branded too white by the Corporation’s watchdog.

This comes after a review of the six stations by the BBC Trust has raised concerns that they are failing ethnic minority audiences.

Radio 2 was highlighted, as having particular difficulties in attracting non-white listeners and the Trust has demanded the station urgently improve and report on progress in six months.

The comments echo criticisms made in 2001 by then director-general Greg Dyke, who said the BBC was ‘hideously white’ and had race relations as poor as the Metropolitan Police.

The report accepts states that, ‘like BBC television, BBC radio serves BAME audiences less well than it does white listeners.’ 

The findings came after a thought leadership session by Saad Saraf Director of Think Ethnic revealed that Ethnic people are badly served by public service channels. Saraf stated that multicultural consumers pay £400 million for the BBC and fork another £450 million to subscribe to their own channels.

Saraf highlighted that the BBC fails to listen to the needs of the diverse population and is run by a metropolitan elite that are disconnected from he people they are supposed to serve. 

One of the reasons ethnic people have highlighted is the lack of relevant content with actors in leading roles not a minor ones or villains.

It pointed to statistics that show only 34% of BAME adults tune in to one of the six music radio stations (Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and Asian Network) each week. This compares to 49% of all adults regardless of ethnicity.

Radio 2 has a target audience of the over 35s but even in among this group, it failed to attract ethnic minority listeners. It reaches an average of only 12% each week, compared to 35% for all adults.

In the Trust’s previous review of music radio, Radio 1 was flagged up as of particular concern, reaching only 17% of BAME people aged between 15 and 24.

This is not the first time in recent months that the BBC has been accused of failing ethnic minority audiences. In a speech in December last year, the Corporation’s head of news James Harding said his department better serves ‘rich, old, white people’ than those from poorer backgrounds and ethnic minorities.

Saraf also pointed out that ethnic media is going through a boom with more than 250 media channels and houses serving our multicultural society.

Saraf said that multicultural representation in major shows such as Top Gear, Question Time, and the One Show seem to forget there are other talents out there to choose from and program producers need to consult widely to choose people who will reflect the real composition in our society.

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Radio 2 is too white, say BBC diversity chiefs: demands urgent improvements to attract non-white listeners
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BBC failing ethnic minority audiences, only 34% of black, Asian and minority ethnic tune into any of stations
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