Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Banff World Media Festival begins in Canada in just a few hours. One regular attendee from Britain is the BBC's Director of Children's - Joe Godwin. Very few other BBC staff go, though it is by no means clear from his expenses records whether his attendance is actually on behalf of the UK television licence-payer or for some other reason.

Mr Godwin has an important position within the BBC, and few, if any, people in the children's department are prepared to question his authority. Such unbridled power is not necessarily a good thing.

Take, for instance, the issue of diversity.

Most are in favour of treating people of different races as equals. Few programmes shown on the BBC's children's channels ignore the need to represent the racial diversity of this country. But, as we saw in yesterday's blog, things are quite different when it comes to fair treatment of LGBT people. A whole children's programme about the life and work of Alan Turing - and not even a suggestion that he was gay.

Who was responsible for that omission, and was it justified?

Newsround Blog is clear that telling the whole truth about Alan Turing would help thousands of kids who are subjected to homophobic bullying or who are just finding difficulty coming to terms with their sexuality. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was one of the guests on Dateline London yesterday morning (BBC News channel.) Ms Alibhai-Brown had received an email from one such schoolchild.

One of the problems with the BBC children's department is that once you start asking anyone about LGBT diversity it's not long before you hit the buffers. Staff seem scared to show support for LGBT equality. That's why, perhaps, I haven't heard back from Helen Bullough, and why Sarah Muller, Head of CBBC Drama Development and Acquisitions, and Cheryl Taylor, Controller of CBBC, are reluctant to answer my questions. In fact I'm aware that the former Controller of CBBC - now Controller of BBC Daytime - Damian Kavanagh, had been given specific instructions not to answer my enquiries.

According to their website, this year is the 35th Anniversary of the Banff World Media Festival. Joe Godwin is on the Advisory Board for "Kids and Animation" as is Agnes Augustin, CEO of the Shaw Rocket Fund, which as we've seen has little or no interest in supporting LGBT equality. At the time of writing, Joe Godwin's bio on the website states that "As Director of BBC Children's, Joe Godwin is responsible for all of the BBC's services for children on BBC One and BBC Two as well as the dedicated CBBC and CBeebies channels and websites. .." Joe should now advise the Banff people that there aren't any children's services on BBC One and BBC Two.

No comments: