Friday, April 20, 2012

My open letter to the BBC Trust, sent this morning -

Thank you for your reply to my enquiry about the appointment of a new BBC Director-General (Ref: 1398002)

Naturally, I'm quite disappointed to learn that the appointment process will not be as open and transparent as I'd hoped.

The reason for my interest is a particular concern relating to diversity and inclusiveness failings since, in 2005, BBC management constituted its Diversity Board and substantially weakened editorial guidelines.

Some members of the Trust may recall that BBC journalist Gary O'Donoghue was paid a large sum to call off an employment tribunal hearing in 2008. The legal case would have exposed the speciousness of the Beeb's diversity policy.

The BBC settled with Gary before he went to court, but this wasn't the way things worked out more recently when Miriam O'Reilly sought redress over her age-related sacking from Countryfile. The BBC's solicitors fought the case to the bitter end ... and lost.

Then there is the matter of LGBT representation. In recent years, under the current Director-General, there has been a combination of discrimination and negative portrayal in programmes and online services. The Trust will note that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has made it clear that, on the contrary, an important role of the media is to combat prejudice.

I noticed that there is very little that is relevant in the Role Specification for the new Director-General. It says simply: ".. Candidates will have worked in organisations that have to serve diverse segments of the UK population" and ".. Candidates will be able to inspire employees and create an environment in which creativity thrives, but also build teams that have a diversity of skills and experience."

In view of the above, the Trust should ensure that the BBC is unequivocally committed to the furtherance of equality and diversity, and also ensure the Director-General coordinates this new steer.

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