Channel 4’s all-white board controversy is a clear sign that proper diversity in the media doesn’t exist

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Jan 13, 2024 at 10:00 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

In a recent development, Channel 4 finds itself at the centre of a diversity controversy, triggered after it blocked a woman of colour, former senior BBC executive Rozina Breen, from its board without giving a reason. This incident has sparked debates on transparency, representation, and inclusivity in the media industry, raising crucial questions about the decision-making process and the commitment to diversity within Channel 4.

According to The Guardian, Breen, who went through a comprehensive six-month recruitment process with the Office of Communications (Ofcom), claims that her appointment was vetoed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The subsequent appointments made by Ofcom, which added five new non-executive directors to Channel 4’s board, were all white—intensifying already ongoing concerns about the lack of diversity at the broadcaster. This also comes at a time when the UK government has expressed a commitment to fostering inclusivity. Yet, as is the unfortunate truth, reality diverges significantly from our expectations.

While it’s Ofcom that is officially tasked with the crucial role of pinpointing, evaluating, and appointing non-executive directors for Channel 4, the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the culture secretary, Lucy Frazer. Following Breen’s rejection, Channel 4’s chair, Sir Ian Cheshire, voiced his concerns about how the selection was unrepresentative of the broadcaster’s diversity targets.

And just like that, Channel 4, which is undergoing transformations amid a protracted advertising downturn and shifting viewer habits, is facing additional challenges as it grapples with job cuts. The diversity dilemma now takes centre stage as questions arise about the composition of the board and the organisation’s commitment to inclusivity.

Breen’s critique of the appointment process resonates with broader discussions on the representation of women of colour in leadership roles within the media industry. She continued that women of colour must “jump higher, run faster, work harder, to fit in.”

Breen’s rejection also puts a spotlight on the stark reality that women of colour encounter multiple barriers in the media sector that white women do not. Breen’s call for more diverse senior decision-makers in broadcasting is not just a plea to meet internal targets, it reflects broader societal expectations for genuine inclusivity in leadership roles.

This isn’t the first instance where Channel 4 has come under scrutiny for its lack of diversity and inclusion. In 2002, a coalition of Black and Asian television producers,  known as the Black and Asian Film & TV Producers Alliance, took legal action against the broadcaster, as reported by The Guardian. The group alleged that they received persistent discrimination, claiming that Channel 4 has consistently favoured larger, white-owned entities over production companies owned by individuals from ethnic minorities. This alleged bias, they argued, effectively sidelined an entire generation of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds.

In a conversation with TalkTV, Spiked’s Online Editor Tom Slater warned against a “bean counting mindset” and suggested a focus on class representation as an alternative approach. Slater argued that a more class-representative industry naturally fosters ethnic diversity, highlighting the interconnectedness of various forms of diversity and stating: “If you look at the media, if you look at places like the BBC, if you look at the arts in general, working-class people who are if anything less represented in the recent past. It’s been colonised by Oxbridge and Russell Group graduates.”

“The more class representative an industry is, also the more naturally diverse it is, because the working class is disproportionately ethnically diverse as well. That’s one area where we definitely have gone backwards,” Slater continued.

As Channel 4 navigates its transformation amid financial challenges and shifting viewer dynamics, the diversity debate becomes a critical aspect of its organisational narrative. The media industry stands at a crossroads, where decisions regarding leadership composition have far-reaching implications for both internal dynamics and public perception. It’s a harsh reality of an old script where diversity seems more like a box to tick than a genuine commitment.

The rejection of Breen is not just a personnel decision, it’s a symbol of a systemic flaw that thrives on homogeneity while championing the illusion of diversity.

Keep On Reading

By Alma Fabiani

7 statistics that show why gen Z might be the one to end systemic racism

By Yair Oded

7 things you can do against institutional racism as a white American

By Monica Athnasious

As nightclubs reopen in the UK, there is another virus to fear: racism

By Abby Amoakuh

Boris Johnson’s new gig at GB News is a match made in problematic heaven

By Abby Amoakuh

Travis Barker’s ex-wife takes jab at his relationship with Kourtney, calls Kardashians disgusting

By Charlie Sawyer

Why PinkPantheress is the lowkey gen Z pop princess we all deserve

By Alma Fabiani

The rise, fall, and resurgence of the tramp stamp: How Gen Z are reclaiming lower back tattoos

By Abby Amoakuh

Ariana Grande shakes off haters with new song as long-time stalker finally gets convicted

By Charlie Sawyer

Usher Super Bowl 2024 halftime show: Justin Bieber to make comeback as special guest

By Abby Amoakuh

Online adoption ads prey on pregnant women in actions reminiscent of the Baby Scoop era

By Louis Shankar

The TV finales that saved 2023, and the ones that royally ruined it

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Annie Leibovitz’s Zendaya Vogue shoot reignites call for Black photographers

By Abby Amoakuh

As cities wage a war on wee, the UK public toilet crisis intensifies

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Woman miraculously comes back to life minutes before her own cremation

By Abby Amoakuh

21-year-old mistakes terminal cancer for normal back pain and dies within days

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Shia LaBeouf ditches acting career to become a Catholic deacon instead

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Amanda Bynes reveals recent cosmetic surgery on her eyelids in viral TikTok

By Charlie Sawyer

Ron DeSantis’ administration links pro-Palestine student group to terrorism and bans it from campus

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Groom’s crude vows were just the beginning: Dad and ex-girlfriend’s speeches go viral

By Charlie Sawyer

Why is Amish TikToker Sarah Joy being questioned on her religion?