Chi’s questions for Minister on media diversity

Following a constructive and informative debate in Parliament last week, Chi wrapped-up the session with some closing remarks and questions for Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture. Chi has since put the questions in writing to the Minister and will publish the response here.

Chi’s remarks in the debate are below:

 

Chi Onwurah: Thank you very much, Mr Streeter, for chairing what has been, as I think we can all agree, a very well informed and reasonable debate with a good deal of consensus—apart from when the question of the BBC’s charter renewal was touched on, which was not necessarily within the original remit of my debate.

I thank everybody for their contributions, including my hon. Friends, the Front Benchers and the hon. Member for Arfon (Hywel Williams). In this wide-ranging debate, there was a great deal of agreement on the importance of diversity, including, as my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) set out, to both sides of the House, as well as economically and in terms of fairness for a big, bold BBC.

I am pleased with the Minister’s response about the casting director, and I look forward to choosing the show. In general, I agree with much of what he said; I agree that there are many initiatives and that he has a focus on them. I would like, however, to see more of a focus on socioeconomic background; perhaps that can be his next area. Whereas I talked about fairness and the business need for diversity, he made a very good point in saying that the issue is about showing role models to all of us. All of us need role models, which can be significant in changing the opportunities and ambitions of people more generally.

I shall nevertheless send the Minister all my questions in a letter, because the questions about data and their collection were perhaps not covered fully. I also say to the broadcasting industry that the data can effectively be collected automatically, because there is voice and facial recognition, and in future there will be nowhere to hide. I suggest to the broadcasters that they share the data now, while they can have some control over how it is understood, before they are exposed by big data in relation to all the gaps within their diversity representation.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered diversity in public sector broadcasting.

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