Tony Hall has announced a £2m fund and a new advisory group to help improve the representation of the UK’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the BBC’s output.
The advisory group, which includes Floella Benjamin, Lenny Henry and Jason Roberts, will advise the BBC’s Director-General on diversity issues as the broadcaster seeks to address concerns that its output is too white.
In addition, £2m has been ring-fenced to help develop and fast-track programming which will increase BAME representation “across all genres”.
Lord Hall has set the goal of increasing BAME portrayal from 10.4% to 15% over the next three years and ordered BBC News to ensure that the mix of presenters in London, Birmingham, Manchester reflects the local population.
He has also announced new targets to increase BAME senior level staff in TV and Radio Production, Broadcast Journalism and Commissioning and Scheduling from 8.3% currently to 10% by 2017 and then to 15% by 2020.
These targets are in addition to the broadcaster’s existing goals of achieving a more diverse workforce by 2017.
The measures follow a growing level of complaints about poor BAME visibility in BBC programmes and a lack of non-white leading actors in its drama output.
In recent months both Lenny Henry and Homeland star David Harewood have urged the BBC to better reflect the nation’s ethnic mix.
Lord Hall said: “The BBC gets much right on diversity, but the simple fact is that we need to do more. I am not content for the BBC to be merely good or above average.
“I want a new talent-led approach that will help set the pace in the media industry. I believe in this and want our record to be beyond reproach. That won’t be achieved overnight, but the package of measures I’ve put in place, alongside the support we’ll get from leading experts, will make a tangible difference.
“We will review progress regularly, and if we need to expand our approach even more, then we will. It is something we have to get right. My aim is for the BBC to be the number one destination for talented people regardless of their background. It’s time for action.”