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Mark Mardell warns BBC diversity drive will ‘annoy and dismay’ its audience as he leaves broadcaster

Mark Mardell has warned the BBC’s diversity drive will ‘annoy and dismay’ its audience in a parting shot as he left the corporation after a 30-year career.

The veteran broadcaster, 63, announced on Twitter last month that he would be presenting his last World At One show after taking redundancy.

Yesterday he expressed his frustrations during an interview on Radio 4’s Feedback, while also raising concerns over the reporting of Donald Trump and his supporters.

It follows the BBC announcing that it will spend £100million of its TV budget to increase diversity and produce inclusive content over the next three years. 

Mark Mardell (pictured above), 63, expressed his frustrations during an interview on Radio 4’s Feedback, while also raising concerns over the reporting of Donald Trump and his supporters

Mr Mardell told radio host Roger Bolton: ‘We do need to get young people and we do need to get people who feel unserved by the BBC. 

‘But it doesn’t mean you annoy and dismay your original, basic audience.’

He added: ‘We have to make difficult and harsh cuts, and if I truly believe that the only fat on the bone, the only thing that could be cut, was reporting, and the programme’s budgets, then I say that’s a great shame and does great damage, but we’ve got to do it to survive.  

‘But is there no other way that the BBC can make cuts? Is there nowhere that any of the five or six people that have “head” and “news” in their title can look and see other areas where there’s too much fat on the body of the BBC? 

‘I do worry, yes I do very much worry, because I think reporting is absolutely at the heart of everything we do, it’s fundamental. If you don’t know what people say, it’s why people misread Brexit, it’s why people misread Trump, it’s why people misread several elections.

‘Not just because, well we did trust the opinion polls continually too much, but we’re not going out there and listening to people’s stories, and you’ve got to do that.

‘I think command economy of news probably doesn’t work. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.’ 

Earlier in the programme, the former World This Weekend presenter said: ‘I don’t approve of everything that’s being done at the BBC and I’ll be fairly frank about that. 

It follows Tim Davie, above, admitted the BBC is not delivering 'equally' to everyone in the UK, adding that some parts of the nation 'don't necessarily feel the broadcaster is for them'

It follows Tim Davie, above, admitted the BBC is not delivering ‘equally’ to everyone in the UK, adding that some parts of the nation ‘don’t necessarily feel the broadcaster is for them’

‘I think people feel difficult when they leave, some just want to lash out at things that they’ve disagreed with and put up with for 30 years or so.

‘Others are overfriendly and don’t want to criticise because they believe in the ethos as I do and believe in the licence fee as I do, and believe in what the BBC’s mission is, as I do.’ 

Speaking on the issue of impartiality, which was previously addressed by the BBC’s new Director-General, he commented: ‘I think Tim Davie is right in a broader sense that we live in a very partisan world of social media, lots of aggression and bitterness.

‘And we also live in a world where, as happens in America, the broadcast media is biased one way or another, and increasingly that is happening here.

‘I hope what he is saying about impartiality is a plea for somebody who tries, despite all the difficulties, despite all the hardships, it’s not easy, but to stand above that and say “we are impartial”, not just left or right, he said this she says that, but in a 360 way, exploring all sorts of people’s views.’

It comes after Tim Davie admitted the BBC is not delivering ‘equally’ to everyone in the UK, adding that some parts of the nation ‘don’t necessarily feel the broadcaster is for them’.

Meanwhile, the corporation has vowed that 20 per cent of all its off-screen talent for its new commissions will come from under-represented groups. 

The BBC (broadcasting house in London, above) announced that it will spend £100m of its TV budget to increase diversity and produce inclusive content over next three years (file photo)

The BBC (broadcasting house in London, above) announced that it will spend £100m of its TV budget to increase diversity and produce inclusive content over next three years (file photo)

This will include people with a disability, those who are black and minority ethnic and individuals from a disadvantaged socio-economic background.

The pledge came in the wake of a wave of Black Lives Matter protests in the UK and across the world following the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Under the plan, 20 per cent of off-screen talent, which may mean crew, writers, producers or directors, on all new network commissions has to be diverse.

All new BBC commissions will also need to meet two of three criteria.

They are: Diverse stories and portrayal on-screen, diverse production teams and talent, and diverse-led production companies.

In October last year, TV presenter and campaigner June Sarpong was appointed as director of creative diversity by the BBC, after it pledged to ensure 50 per cent of on-air roles will go to women by 2020.

It also set targets of 15 per cent on-air roles to be for BAME groups, eight per cent for disabled people and eight per cent for LGBT staff.

According to the 2011 Census, 13 per cent of the UK population is BAME, while one in five are disabled while around six per cent are LGBT.

BBC has failed to connect with white working class audiences, says head of diversity June Sarpong

The BBC has failed to connect with white working class audiences and must do more to make them feel represented, according to its head of diversity, said June Sarpong (above)

The BBC has failed to connect with white working class audiences and must do more to make them feel represented, according to its head of diversity, said June Sarpong (above)

The BBC has failed to connect with white working class audiences and must do more to make them feel represented, according to its head of diversity.

Earlier this month, June Sarpong said her work to reach under-represented groups would extend beyond black and Asian people to include working class communities and their concerns, including immigration.

The presenter made the remarks at a virtual Ofcom summit where she also spoke about being the only black person in the room at BBC conference meetings.

She said: ‘Often the BAME audience gets a lot of focus, in that the BBC doesn’t represent BAME audiences enough, and we talk about young people.

‘But we know that we’ve had serious issues in terms of our connection with C2DE [working class] audiences and I think it’s about getting the balance.

‘As somebody who is an advocate for diversity, I’m always making sure I’m banging the drum for working class audiences because I come from a working class background, my parents were immigrants, we grew up in a white, working class community.

‘And I totally understand when it comes to immigration, that is the community that has actually lived it, and often we don’t have the sort of nuanced debate around this stuff that we need to.’

Miss Sarpong praised new director-general Tim Davie for speaking out about the need to improve diversity at the BBC .

She said: ‘Our ethos is about being for all of us and that means you have to balance opposing views and groups that perhaps don’t see eye to eye.

‘What Tim is doing is ensuring that we don’t ignore any part of our audience.’

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

‘Now the audience themselves are very vocal, and not just of the BBC or of broadcasters but of any institution and company in general,’ she said.

‘We understand that it’s absolutely vital for our success and our survival. It’s no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.’

 The diversity tsar also told the conference how she is the only black person in the room at executive meetings.

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

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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