BBC ‘lowering its standards to hire more ethnic minorities’

February 14th, 2011 - 2:48 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 14 (ANI): A former BBC executive has accused the corporation of lowering its standards to hire more ethnic minorities.

Indian-born Samir Shah, a former head of current affairs, has cited Radio 4 as an example of how the BBC is ‘dumbing down’ its output in a desperate bid to get more ethnic minorities on air and attract a more diverse audience, reports the Daily Mail.

Shah, who left his job at the beginning of the year, spoke out following a performance review by the BBC Trust last week, which ruled the station needed to attract a more diverse audience and improve its appeal to ethnic groups.

The verdict had prompted fury from listeners, broadcasters and politicians.

Shah claimed he was ‘embarrassed’ by the declining quality.

“It is done with the best of intentions - but for someone like me, from an ethnic minority, my heart sinks. It is just embarrassing,” he said.

“The problem is that, without realising it consciously, or not, they lower the barrier. And what happens to me when I listen to it, and it’s an obvious ethnic thing, I worry that it’s just not as good as it should be,” he added.

“And because they have all this pressure to reach particular people, or hire particular people, they don’t have the same standards,” said Shah.

The report, by BBC trustee David Liddiment, acknowledged Radio 4 sets ‘a high standard for speech radio’ and is seen by many as a ‘national treasure’ - but claimed it still needed to change.

Shah, who is also a former chairman of the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank, attacked the decision, saying it was ‘illogical’ for the station to try and broaden its traditional audience.

“If I want to listen to stuff from my people there’s a load of stuff - any number of Asian channels. I want Radio 4 to remain as it is,” he told the Sunday Times.

Conservative MP Phillip Davies agreed with Shah, saying: “I think most people believe there has been a drop in standards at the BBC in recent years.”

“The people responsible at the BBC are probably white, middle-class people with a guilt complex. This is the type of political correctness we have come to expect from the BBC. But it makes peoples’ blood boil. It is terrible for race relations,” he added.

The BBC, however, said in a statement that it recruits on merit alone. (ANI)

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