Television and radio getting more white – report

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Creative industries including television and radio have been accused of “institutional racism”, after new research revealed a large drop in the number of black, Asian and ethnic minority people working in them.

In television alone, only 7.5% of the workforce is made up of people from a black, Asian or ethnic minority group, down from 9% in 2009 and 9.9% in 2006.

Broadcast union BECTU has now called on companies within the industries concerned to be “transparently accountable” and has warned that the UK is losing talented people to other countries because of the lack of opportunities open to them here.

The figures are published in Creative Skillset’s 2012 employment census, which is designed to provide “insight into the changing composition of the industries’ employment patterns”. It shows that black, Asian and minority ethnic [BAME] people now make up just 5.4% of the total workforce across all the creative media sectors compared with 6.7% in 2009.

Although 7.5% of the television industry as a whole is made up of BAME people, the study found that within terrestrial broadcasting, 9.5% of the workforce is BAME, up from 9.3% in 2009, while in cable and satellite broadcasting, the proportion of BAME people is 9.1%, down from 12.3% in 2009. It also found that 5% of the independent production sector is made up of BAME employees, down from 7% in 2009.

In TV, only 5% of those working in hair and make-up and 2% of those in lighting are from a BAME background.

There are higher proportions of BAME people working in business development (13%) and in the legal departments (12%).

Responding to the findings, Janice Turner, diversity officer at BECTU, said: “BECTU’s black members’ committee is utterly fed up of participating in endless research projects into this. There are armfuls of research telling us why this is happening. The fact is that this industry has to tackle the problem at its source and that is changing the attitudes of the executives and holding companies to account for their decisions.”

She added: “The creative industries exist on funding and licences given out on behalf of the taxpayer, so each company benefitting from this largesse should be held transparently accountable for their success or failure to reflect the public they wish to serve.”

Creative Skillset chief executive Dinah Caine said the organisation would be working with all of its partners, including the Creative Diversity Network, to “help address the under-representation”.

A spokesman for the CDN, which brings together organisations that broadcast or make programmes to promote good practice around issues of diversity, said: “The CDN will look at the data further with Creative Skillset with a view to understanding whether this issue relates to industry access or progression, or both, and in which specific areas of television.”

Despite the drop in BAME employees across the sectors, the survey found that, in television, women make up 45% of the workforce, up from 41% in 2009.