Sam Creighton, Daily Mail, March 19, 2015
The BBC’s music radio services have been branded too white by the Corporation’s watchdog.
A review of the six stations by the BBC Trust has raised concerns that they are failing ethnic minority audiences.
Radio 2 was highlighted as having particular difficulties in attracting non-white listeners and the Trust has demanded the station urgently improve and report on progress in six months.
The comments echo criticisms made in 2001 by then director-general Greg Dyke, who said the BBC was ‘hideously white’ and had race relations as poor as the Metropolitan Police.
While yesterday’s report accepts that the BBC has improved over recent years, it states that, ‘like BBC television, BBC radio serves BAME audiences less well than it does white listeners.’
BAME stands for black, Asian and minority ethnic.
It pointed to statistics that show only 34 percent of BAME adults tune in to one of the six music radio stations–Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and Asian Network–each week. This compares to 49 percent of all adults regardless of ethnicity.
Although the BAME figure is up from 29 percent five years ago, the Trust said the BBC must still improve further.
It is a problem also faced by BBC television, with the latest figures revealing it reached 74 percent of BAME adults each week, compared with 86 percent of all adults.
Radio 2 has a target audience of the over 35s but even in among this group, it failed to attract ethnic minority listeners. It reaches an average of only 12 percent each week, compared to 35 percent for all adults.
The Trust said: ‘As Radio 2 has a remit to serve a broad audience over the age of 35, it should address this disparity.’
In the Trust’s previous review of music radio, Radio 1 was flagged up as of particular concern, reaching only 17 percent of BAME people aged between 15 and 24.
This time, the youth-oriented station has been praised for its progress, with the figure rising to 23 percent.
However, this is still far lower than the 40 percent reach it has among young people nationwide regardless of ethnicity.
This is not the first time in recent months that the BBC has been accused of failing ethnic minority au-diences. In a speech in December last year, the Corporation’s head of news James Harding said his de-partment better serves ‘rich, old, white people’ than those from poorer backgrounds and ethnic minorities.
Yesterday’s review announced that Radio 1 was cutting back on its number of live recordings and its coverage of music festivals as part of a cost cutting drive.
Also revealing that there will be ‘a small reduction’ in drama on Radio 3, it praised the stations for being ‘distinctive’ and said they played a ‘wider range’ of music than their commercial rivals. BBC Trustee Nick Prettejohn, who jointly led the review, said it made for ‘positive reading’.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘We aim to appeal to listeners from all backgrounds by offering a broad range of high-quality services and programming.
‘Whilst listening to our music radio stations amongst BAME audiences has grown in recent years, we will continue work hard to make sure our stations represent and reach all audiences.’