Saturday, April 23, 2016

Target practice

It remains frenetic in the BBC Charter Renewal Bunker. On Friday, some 'new' diversity targets were issued to newspapers -  they don't seem to be available to the public via Auntie's myriad online offerings - to be reached by 2020.  It looks like a rather belated response to Government hints as far back as November 2015, pushed forward by last week's Commons debate on diversity.

The diversity target, off-air, of 15% BAME employees and the same measure of on-air portrayal, is the same as set under Mark Thompson, to be achieved by 2017. The disability target, of 8% on-air and off-air, is a rise from the current 5.3% to be reached by 2017.

Brand new is a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) target of 8%.  We are not told how close Auntie is now.

After the 'success' of Lord Hall's imposition on BBC local radio, which sought 50/50 gender balance of breakfast presenters, the same target has apparently been set for all on-air and off-air activities - the Guardian is told "The on-air targets will apply to all genres from news to drama but will not be programme-specific". That'll help Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, and a whole range of football, rugby, golf and cricket output.  I confidently predict new BBC productions of The Penelopiad, The Vagina Monologues and Daisy Pulls It Off in the next round of drama commissions. Anyone thinking of reforming the Ivy Benson Band could be on to a winner; the Military Wives will work forever, and expect theme tunes a-go-go featuring Les Voix Mystere Bulgares.

Currently 48.4% of BBC staff are women, and they take 41.3% of senior management roles. The only previous targets I can find were set in 2013, for the Future Media and Technology divisions to hit 30% by 2017.

Instinctively, I suspect there'll be some further twitchiness in Local Radio at the new on-air target, especially in football and cricket coverage. Someone else can do the maths.

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