Diversity Initiatives in UK Media

This is a quick post rounding up some of the diversity initiatives, keynote speeches and policy document links. These are ‘texts’ I’ve come across when exploring the recent changes being fought for and advocated regarding diversity, representation and changes to UK broadcasting. All of them are publicly available, but I collate them here with a view to mapping out the contemporary terrain of UK broadcasting. The combination of governmental lobbying with industry involvement (and petitioning), is arguably creating new frameworks to improve the UK media ecology. Media ecology is a term to denote the study of media, through looking at the technology that media consists of, the communication that occurs through it and how they affect human environments.

However there is still a tendency within New Media scholarship that situate these changes, termed as political or national as belonging “In Real Life”, as though they do not touch upon or progress all media environs or have an impact globally. Especially as the driving force of many of these changes to the UK broadcasting, is under the banner of ‘Diversity’, a theme concerning identity/ies that resonate across global diasporas. Diasporas that are increasingly becoming connected through ‘cyberia’¹, cognisant of their history and practices and communicating for understanding and change.

A couple of years ago, in 2014, I fervently followed Lenny Henry’s call for action and diversity. Henry launched a petition to affect change through parliament, to boost the number and positions of workers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, or else there would be a mass boycott of the licence fee. In short, action was called for. Meaning significant changes needed to be made and promoted, made visible, through lobbying the then culture minister Ed Vaizey. Here’s an article by Tara Conlan on The Guardian, which also showcases the “call to action” video that was sent out. A video that collects and projects narratives around how “diversity” or rather differences are encountered by media professionals who are marked as different in the industry. Started up in April 2014. This change came off the back of published polls and research, whose findings prompted calls for ‘media regulators to be more vigilant in addressing coverage of combustible subjects such as immigration and race.’² The poll by the Runnymede Trust found that ’78 per cent of respondents of all ethnic backgrounds believe that media portrayal of minorities encourages discrimination’².  The media is important to people across the world, as it gives people a sense of who they are, what they’ve been and who they can become. In that vein the people across the media industries, within all positions came together to be visible in their calls for change toward media institutions and governments.

A few months later in 2014, ’50 leading creative figures’ sent an open letter to the BBC director general, Tony Hall and the executives of ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and BSkyB – in short the broadcasting corporations that oversee our great media institutions. Articles here, and here. This time however, the call for change was clear. Dismayed at the numbers (5% of employees in creative industries are BAME despite making up 12.5% of population), the call was to ring-fence money to create a stable environment for BAME talent both behind and on screen. To increase the quality of programming. A similar economic framework exists to fulfil programming coming from outside of the London area, but here again these industry professionals feel the focus is on quantity, or ‘box-ticking’ perhaps,  rather than good-quality creative productions.

Now, lets be clear the pace of change has been slow. But by placing spotlights on the lack of diversity in media institutions, across the UK and even in the US, progress is arguably being made. It’s significant that the changes are being called for in the two culturally imperial centres of the world, the US and the UK. All of which reached mediated peak in 2016, so very recently. We’ve seen the ‘#OscarsSoWhite’ campaign, the ‘#BritsSoWhite‘ campaign, ‘#BlackLivesMatter’ – all of these requests from media environments, themselves communicated through mediation and technology show how identity has become a salient problem that must be countered with.

At the beginning of 2016, Idris Elba was invited by MP Tessa Jowell to give a keynote address Parliament on Diversity in the Media, full video of the address is here , a transcript that omits certain things is here. Also, an article by Paul Revoir at The Guardian that gives an overview and contextualising Elba’s career alongside other British talent, who feel the UK media industry needs change is here. Though the focus seems to be on celebrities, or the most visible a number of other persons have also got together to enact change. A debate occurred in parliament in April, 2016, though I must note it seems sparsely attended.


The tying together of Government and British media broadcasting has been there since the inception. But as the government resolves to make key changes and monitor our traditional media industries for the sake of equality, the key market of “new media” is often seen as a separate entity over which no control can be exerted. Despite the fact that the UK government is moving a number of legislation through Parliament that has affects upon the overall media ecologies around us, and will no doubt have repercussions on representation, connections and communication for years to come.


¹ J. Dean (2011) Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Politics in Cultural Politics (Vol 1: 1 ; pp 51-74). Berg.

² I.Burrell (2014) ‘Media coverage of ethnic minority Britons ‘promotes racism’ in The Independent. Thursday 9 January 2014. Link



MDX LGBT Society Talk About their Film Awareness Video

Collating my work for the blog. It seems so long ago that I was at Middlesex with a entire gang of guys, gals and in-betweens who enjoyed engaging with the university life. As well as having a sense of ownership of the atrium spaces in the Grove. Beautiful place to film within, it really should feature more in productions.

The Literary Gazette

Sometimes the best events come from the simplest of ideas.

Ahead of the North London Literary festival, Middlesex students are hard at work at many creative endeavours.  Though we hunger for news on the highly anticipated app, other creative committees and students are conducting their events earlier in more public forums. 

On the 1st of February, a few intrepid equality and liberation activists or in other-words Middlesex University’s LGBT Society (MDX LGBT) banded together to create a Campaign Video.

I, the secretary of MDX LGBT, caught up with the President and Treasurer to find out more about why and how the video was created as well as their future aspirations for the Middlesex Society.

I am joined by Peter Dillon, 20, the President of MDX LGBT and Tom Stock, 26, the Treasurer of MDX LGBT, who share their views and journey on leaving a lasting legacy.

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Middlesex University Students Blogging at WOW

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I’m so excited that this year Middlesex University’s Media department and by extension me  have been approached to form the blogging team to cover the talks at this year’s WOW – Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Center!

Although the programme hasn’t been finalised yet I do know that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a professor at Middlesex will be chairing an event this year. Also in attendance will be Malala  Yousafzai, an influential campaigner since blogging at the age of 11, hitting headlines around the world in 2012 after the vile attack on her from extremists in the Swat Valley. However still having the courage since her life-or-death situation aged just 15 to go on to stand up and speak out for universal education of girls and an end to child labour. As I’m sure you can guess I am very, very excited (and blessed) to be seeing her live, as is my mother. My mother being an uneducated woman raised amidst a background much the same as Malala 50 years ago, within the borderlands between Pakistan and Kashmir cried her eyes out upon hearing of Malala’s plight praying day and night for her recovery. Upon hearing of my potential meeting with her through my new role at Middlesex University, where she often thinks I work too long I think this opportunity has gone a long way to building up a small ounce of pride in me, my profession and role within society in my mother’s eyes.

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