Ofcom boss Sharon White says broadcasters must act to attract wider range of talent.
Ethnic minorities, disabled people and women are all under-represented in the UK’s radio industry, according to a new report, prompting warnings that its output may be out of step with what modern British audiences want to hear.
According to research by the media regulator Ofcom just 6% of staff in the sector are non-white, far below the UK population average of 14%.
Although more than half of radio employees are women, they only occupy 37% of senior management roles in the industry and are almost completely absent from boardrooms.
“Our radio sector has a huge opportunity to extend its reach and relevance to the whole UK,” said the Ofcom chief executive, Sharon White. “Our radio industry must reflect the breadth of modern society and offer listeners engaging shows that speak directly to their lives and experiences. And to do this effectively broadcasters must take further action to attract a wider range of talent, both on and off air.”
The figures show that the radio industry is well behind television when it comes to ethnic diversity, although radio does employ a higher proportion of people with disabilities.
The study of nearly 9,000 staff focused on the UK’s three biggest broadcasting groups: the BBC; Global, which owns Capital and Classic FM; and Bauer, which runs stations including Absolute and Magic.
Ofcom praised the BBC for providing detailed statistics on the backgrounds of its staff, saying the commercial sector lagged behind the BBC in terms of diversity and needs to improve its data collection if it wants to change.
The regulator said that “overall, too many broadcasters are failing to fully understand or address the diversity problem” and called on radio groups to set clear diversity targets and make chief executives responsible for implementing them.
Source: The Guardian.