Posted on December 1, 2009

Radio 4 Drive for Ethnic Listeners Following Claims It’s ‘Too White’

Claire Ellicott, Daily Mail (London), November 29, 2009

Radio 4 is hoping to increase its appeal to ethnic minorities as part of a push to reach a wider audience.

The station will commission material aimed at black or Asian listeners, such as a show on patois presented by Rastafarian poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

Radio 4 has previously been criticised for being ‘too white’.

Station controller Mark Damazer met race equality campaigners to discuss how to make its workforce more diverse.

He admitted there was also a lack of black and Asian presenters, but warned this will take time to change as many slots are taken by established stars.

Ashok Viswanathan, a founder of Operation Black Vote, said the meeting with Mr Damazer was ‘encouraging’ and he hoped Radio 4 would commit to making changes. ‘You look at the faces at the station and it doesn’t look like 21st century Britain,’ he said.

Last night, Tory MP Philip Davies said it was ‘patronising’ to presume ethnic minorities would not be interested in the same programmes as everyone else.

A Radio 4 spokesman insisted it ‘aims to reflect the UK’s audience’ but denied that any shows would be axed in favour of ‘more diverse’ programming.