Monday 20 August 2018

BBC ordered to report on meeting on-air diversity targets

Watchdog Ofcom said it will assess whether the corporation is representing and portraying the “diverse communities of the whole of the UK”.

BBC gender pay gap
BBC gender pay gap

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

The BBC will have to report on whether it meets on-air diversity targets under new broadcasting rules.

Watchdog Ofcom said it will assess whether the corporation is representing and portraying the “diverse communities of the whole of the UK”.

It said the BBC should “do more to improve how people are reflected on-screen and on-air”.

Ofcom “will scrutinise the BBC’s performance to assess whether it is making sufficient progress in serving the UK’s diverse communities and whether audiences are satisfied.

“If audiences are dissatisfied, the BBC must explain itself and put in place measures on how it will improve,” it said.


The rules, which will also see Ofcom assess workforce diversity, are part of a new operating licence for the broadcaster.

Under the new rules, BBC1 and BBC2 will be required to broadcast original content in 90% of peak evening hours.

The regulator will also require “more music from new and emerging UK artists” on Radio 1 and Radio 2.

The BBC already exceeds the targets for BBC1 and BBC2 but it has now been set new quotas to safeguard UK programming.

Ofcom said the BBC “must broadcast more original UK programmes” to offer “high-quality, distinctive programmes for its entire audience”.

From next year, it will require at least 75% of all programme hours on the BBC’s most popular TV channels to be original productions, “commissioned by the BBC for UK audiences”.

The quota will reach 90% during peak evening hours on BBC1 and BBC2.


There will be new requirements on Radio 1 and Radio 2 to play a broader range of music than commercial stations as well as more music from new and emerging UK artists.

Children’s channels CBBC and CBeebies must show at least 400 and 100 hours, respectively, of new, UK-commissioned programmes each year.

The rules also confirm previous plans for the BBC to spend the same on programmes per head in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and to safeguard “vulnerable genres” such as arts, music and religion.

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom content and media policy director, said: “The BBC is the cornerstone of UK broadcasting. But we think it can do more to provide quality, distinctive programmes that reflect the interests and lives of people across the UK.

“Our rules will ensure the BBC focuses on original UK content and invests in vital areas such as children’s programmes, music, arts and religion.”

A BBC spokesman said: “These are a tough and challenging set of requirements which rightly demand a distinctive BBC which serves and represents all audiences throughout the whole UK.

“We will now get on with meeting these requirements and continuing to provide the world-class, creative BBC the public wants.”

Detailing planned diversity targets, the spokesman added: “We are glad Ofcom has recognised the importance of our existing workforce diversity targets – these include 15% of staff to be from ethnic minority groups and 50% of all staff and leadership roles to be held by women by 2020.”

Press Association

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