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What’s stopping more diversity on the airwaves?
What’s stopping more cultural diversity on
the airwaves?
There was widespread agreement amongst programme-makers (remember these
are the people who are developing and pitching ideas) that the main bar to
diversity in output lay in the commissioning of ideas. Another major barrier lay
in the casting of programmes: the choice and availability of diverse presenters,
contributors or actors and the lack of diversity in production teams. Producers
also highlighted programme scheduling and publicity as areas of concern.
Producers identified a number of problems with the sort of people who are
currently commissioning output across national mainstream television and radio
networks and with the commissioning process.
? Difference between Channel 4 and BBC
BBC and Channel 4 have a very different profile in the minds of independent
programme-makers, with Channel 4 being perceived to be less rigid, hierarchical
and “institutional”. This was seen to be a product of its smaller size as well as its
brief to be distinctive and innovative.
We are working with Channel 4 on a number of things at the
moment and compared with the BBC, it is chalk and cheese. You
look at the embrace and welcome and encouragement for causing
trouble as they call it at Channel 4, they want you to go out there
and stir up a hornet’s nest. At the BBC, it is like we have one bee in
the room, how many more do you bloody want!  It’s really couldn’t
be more approaching from opposite ends of the spectrum. -
Independent producer
However, Channel 4 was not seen as necessarily being better at embracing
diversity and committing resources to make culturally diverse programmes.
Don’t assume Channel 4, because it is trendy and a bit more
fashionable, that somehow all those people are with it, they are not,
otherwise their output would be even more diverse actually than it
is. - Independent producer
Channel 4 wants to make a noise, be prepared to offend, and people
are encouraged to take risks. BBC treads more cautiously. It’s a
more conservative organisation: by its nature it’s not an
organisation of risk-takers (they wouldn’t be there if they were!) But
the bottom line is that the BBC does offer a place where there are
the resources and willingness to make something more intelligent
than Channel 4 might have done. - Director
? Commissioning power is in the hands of too few people