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Broadcast regulator ramps up diversity pressure on BBC

William Turvill
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Ofcom will take over as the BBC's watchdog in April next year (Source: Getty)

The broadcast regulator’s chief executive has ramped up pressure on the BBC over diversity.

Ofcom’s Sharon White also said that although the corporation holds a “special status” in public life, it will not receive “special treatment” when the body begins overseeing the broadcaster next year.

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“We have done an awful lot of research, talking to people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and they do not feel the stories being told sufficiently reflect their stories,” she told the Financial Times.

“On minority communities, older women, it is not doing as good a job as it should be. There is a gap there and it is a gap I would like to see closed over time.”

As part of government changes to the royal charter, the BBC Trust is to be scrapped next April and replaced as the corporation’s watchdog by Ofcom.

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White also told the FT: “I would expect the BBC to be more distinctive, to have high-quality programming and to be investing in great drama, great news production and stories that really reflect the country with all its diverse make-up…

“All the research we have done broadly shows that people think the BBC is doing a good job. But it is falling short on those stories that reflect all of the nation and its communities.”

A BBC spokesman said:

Ofcom are clear that the research they are referring to is for all PSBs not just the BBC, but despite that we're always happy to debate what we do on screen and we don’t think any broadcaster does better than in representing older women than the BBC.

We’re proud of the fact that the BBC of today has a huge range of women presenters across TV and Radio including Mary Berry, Carol Klein, Anne Robinson, Felicity Kendal, Joan Bakewell, Jenni Murray, Mary Beard, Gloria Hunniford, Angela Rippon, Julia Somerville and Kirsty Wark.

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