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Ofcom accused of failing to implement ethnic diversity measures at the BBC

Labour MP David Lammy said Improving representation on-screen without progress off-screen was hollow and deceptive

Ofcom has been accused of absconding its responsibilities to improve ethnic diversity at the BBC by former culture minister, David Lammy.

The regulator's draft framework failed to include diversity targets or processes to monitor off-screen employment at the BBC. Instead Ofcom said it expects the publically funded broadcaster to "increase diversity off-screen and off-air and to report on its progress".

Labour MP David Lammy played a key role in the push to include diversity in the new BBC charter- the constitutional basis for the BBC- and has criticised Ofcom for the lack of regulation regarding ethnic diversity in the draft published at the end of March.

In a letter to digital minister Matt Hancock, Lammy said he was “deeply disappointed that Ofcom has not proposed that black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) employment should be a performance measure and has not proposed any regulatory conditions for off-screen representation at any level”.

Speaking to the Guardian, Lammy said: “Ofcom cannot and must not abdicate responsibility. Improving representation on-screen without progress off-screen is hollow and deceptive.”

He added: “Editorial control, influence and the power to drive real change all lie behind the camera, not in front of it."

The new BBC charter, which came into effect at the beginning of 2017, mentioned diversity guidelines in clause 14.1 which says: “The BBC must ensure it reflects the diverse communities of the whole of the United Kingdom in the content of its output, the means by which its output and services are delivered (including where its activities are carried out and by whom) and in the organisation and management of the BBC.”

To coincide with the charter review the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) issued advice recommending the BBC "be at the forefront of representing diversity both on and off screen".

Ofcom, which took over the regulatory duties of the BBC at the beginning of April, said it would consider reviews of the BBC's diversity progress if it did not "early and continued progress".

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