BBC ‘welcome’ Ofcom report saying broadcasters should be legally required to reflect UK’s diversity

The BBC has “welcomed” an Ofcom report saying broadcasters should be legally required to reflect the UK’s diversity.

A report from the broadcasting watchdog urged the UK Government to “urgently bring forward” legislation to “modernise” the objectives of the public service broadcasters (PSB), which also include Channel 4 and 5.

The document said broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV should be legally required to reflect the “diversity of the UK, and represent “people from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and communities from across the UK”.

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The report added: “It is important that this diversity extends to off-screen roles (such as writers, directors, producers, production crew, commissioners etc.) to provide a greater plurality of editorial voices and authentic representation.”

Broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV could be legally required to reflect the “diversity of the UK” under new proposals by the broadcasting watchdog.

It comes after Channel 4 moved its headquarters to Leeds in 2019, while the BBC recently announced a shift away from London over the next six years.

Now the BBC have welcomed the findings and promised to support them.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We welcome Ofcom’s report, which sets out how valued and important public service broadcasters are to audiences – providing trusted, accurate news and a broad range of programming across the UK.

“We particularly welcome the recommendations to modernise the regulatory and legislative frameworks to enable the BBC and other public service broadcasters to thrive in a digital, global market place.”

The findings were also praised by Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine, whose party have called for Britain’s top companies to hire more boardroom directors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The Edinburgh West MP said: “There is no doubt the BBC have tried very hard to improve the situation over recent years.

"Even when I was working there they were aware of the need to reflect the country.

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"As a party, the Lib Dems are keen to see all boards with a minimum requirement to reflect diversity and the more we can do to ensure diversity in all walks of life, the better.

“We saw this week clearly demonstrated the need to recognise that we still have problems to overcome.”

The report – Small Screen: Big Debate – also included a series of recommendations to the government such as ensuring broadcasters support the UK creative economy across the nations and regions.

It also called for them to be universally available and deliver social value.

The report concludes that “TV schedules no longer dictate what [viewers] watch or when they do so” and broadcasters must adapt to their evolving needs.

Ofcom is now working with the government to bring in requirements for on-demand operators and suggested they should also be subject to diversity requirements.

It was announced last month plans to regulate streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime in the same way as PSBs.

Under a new arrangement, Ofcom would extend a similar level of control over on-demand services, meaning it could rule on complaints relating to issues including bias and inaccuracy.

Last month Nicola Sturgeon criticised reports the BBC may move control of studios in Scotland to London as “not in the interests of Scotland”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome Ofcom’s ambition for public service media to better reflect the diversity of the whole UK and support the creative economy. While public service broadcasters play a key role in reflecting diversity, they need to do more.

“We will look carefully at the detail of Ofcom’s recommendations and consider whether the measures they propose will help achieve our aims in Scotland to develop our creative sector in a way that our communities identify with.”

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