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The BBC has failed to connect with the white working class audience, says the Czar of Diversity


The BBC has failed to connect with white working class audiences and needs to do more to make them feel represented, says June Sarpong, director of diversity

  • June Sarpong said her work to reach all groups would include the working class
  • The BBC had "serious problems" reaching out to the communities in which it grew up
  • Also, Ofcom told Summit that she was only a black person at board meetings

June Sarpong (pictured at London's Southbank Center in March) said her work of reaching out to underrepresented groups would go beyond black and Asian people to include people of all races who are economically disadvantaged

The BBC has failed to connect with white working class audiences and needs to do more to make them feel represented, according to its Diversity Director.

June Sarpong said her work of reaching out to underrepresented groups would go beyond black and Asian people and involve working class communities and their concerns, including immigration.

The host made the remarks at an Ofcom virtual summit, where she also talked about being the only black person in the room at BBC conference sessions.

She said, “Often times the BAME audience becomes very focused because the BBC does not represent the BAME audience adequately and we are talking about young people.

“But we know we have had serious problems connecting with the C2DE (working class) audience, and I think it's about finding the balance.

“As someone who advocates for diversity, I always make sure to pop the drum for the working class audience because I come from the working class, my parents were immigrants, and we grew up in a white working class community.

"And I completely understand, when it comes to immigration, this is the community that actually lived it, and often we don't have the nuanced debate about this stuff that we need."

Sarpong praised the new CEO, Tim Davie, who said, "makes sure we don't ignore any part of our audience," said Sarpong.

Speaking to Ofcom's virtual conference Small Screen: Big Debate, she said the broadcaster's survival depends on doing more.

"Now the audience is very vocal themselves, and not just the BBC or the broadcasters, but every institution and company in general," she said.

“We understand that this is vital to our success and survival. It is no longer nice to have, it is a must. & # 39;

Sarpong continued, "In a way, our survival is also in balance, and that is an essential part of keeping us here 100 years."

The host made the remarks at an Ofcom virtual summit, where she also talked about being the only black person in the room at BBC conference sessions. In the picture: Broadcasting House

The host made the remarks at an Ofcom virtual summit, where she also talked about being the only black person in the room at BBC conference sessions. In the picture: Broadcasting House

The diversity tsarina also told the conference that she is the only black person in the room at corporate meetings.

The BBC executive, who receives £ 75,000 a year for her three-day role a week, is the only black person on an executive committee of 11.

When asked what she saw in her role at the table, she said, “I see what the story of my life was in relation to my career … I'm the only one in the room. Nothing new there.

"But the difference was that we weren't even in the room before, so at least someone is in the room."

She pointed out that under the new BBC rules, each decision-making body has at least two people from different backgrounds.

While Miss Sarpong is the only black executive on the Executive Committee, another of its members, Gautam Rangarajan, is also believed to be of ethnically diverse background.

The London-based BBC drives out working-class viewers in the North and Midlands who feel they don't represent them, Tim Davie admits

In an open discussion last month, the new BBC Director General Tim Davie said some parts of the country "don't necessarily think the station is for them".

In an open discussion last month, the new BBC Director General Tim Davie said some parts of the country "don't necessarily think the station is for them".

By Paul Revoir for the Daily Mail and Amie Gordon for MailOnline

Tim Davie has admitted that the BBC doesn't deliver "the same" to everyone in the UK. Metropolitan organizations can feel "removed" from some sections of the population.

In an open discussion last month, the BBC's new director general added that some parts of the country "do not necessarily think the broadcaster is for them".

The BBC chief, speaking at a presentation for the Royal Television Society, added the company should "renew our vows on impartiality", prioritize its "greater purpose" and avoid tracking Twitter followers by making it "outrageous." " be.

It came when Mr. Davie admitted that removing millions of people over 75 of their Free TV licenses was "not a good look" for the company.

Mr Davie defended the decision to get more than three million households to pay the £ 157.50 fee when Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday accused the company of "stealing the ovaltine from retirees' nighttime drink".

The new BBC boss, who took on the role in early September, said "nobody wants to bill people for money they haven't paid," but said that although it was a tough decision he supported the move.

Mr Davie added that if the station's bosses didn't deliver on a diversity level, they wouldn't make any progress on the BBC.

When asked if there was an "underserved" audience, he replied, "Definitely. But the BBC doesn't deliver the same for everyone." He added that there were "certain parts of the country", not just because of age, "who don't necessarily feel like the BBC is for them".

He said: “It's not as easy as the under 35s say, by the way. It's often about your circumstances, where you are, where you live. & # 39;

Mr Davie added, "There is an audience in a diverse UK that feels a little further away from us."

He said, "I think that big city organizations, or the way you hire, have something that may feel a bit removed from some populations."

His comments come when Mr Rees-Mogg set fire to the BBC yesterday in the House of Commons because of its decision on TV licenses for people over 75.

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