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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Watchdog attacks TV's racial mix
Trisha: A popular presenter of ITV1
The Independent Television Commission (ITC) has criticised commercial television channels for a "glaring" lack of ethnic minority stars on screen.

The ITC, in its annual report, also called for more imagination in TV scheduling - especially in daytime - and highlighted a 40% drop in arts programming in peak hours over the last four years.

The absence of any comedy or light entertainment shows led by, or significantly involving, ethnic minority personalities is glaring across all three networks.


But the watchdog was positive about other aspects of commercial TV and praised Channel 5 for producing better quality factual programmes, having accused it last year of concentrating on "human interest, disasters and dysfunctional behaviour".

The commission also praised the reporting of the 11 September attacks on the US, singling out Sky News for its comprehensive coverage.

The representation of the UK's multi-ethnic communities was particularly poor in ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5's entertainment programming, said the report.

"The absence of any comedy or light entertainment shows led by, or significantly involving, ethnic minority personalities is glaring across all three networks," it said.

Sky News
Sky News's 11 September coverage is praised

The report noted that, though Channel 4's "excellent" multicultural programming exceeded the channel's three hours a week requirement, they were rarely shown at peak time.

The other aspect of television that came in for particular criticism from the commission was daytime viewing.

"This part of the schedule has been perceived as low priority," the report said.

"More imagination is needed to re-invigorate the programming."

Richard and Judy
Richard and Judy: A decline in audiences

The move of the husband-and-wife presenting duo Richard and Judy from ITV1's This Morning to a late-afternoon slot on Channel 4 had, the ITC said, "failed to live up to expectations".

Instead of commissioning original daytime programmes, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 had filled the schedules with cheap US imports, it added.

"Overall audiences for daytime television are in decline. This part of the schedule has been perceived as low priority."

Audiences were increasingly giving up watching daytime TV or were turning to cable and satellite channels, the commission warned.

The report also concluded:

  • Daytime TV showed a lack of imagination

  • Reality TV shows dominated the evening schedules

  • Channels relied too much on programmes "observing and revealing coarse behaviour" in their pursuit of the 16-34 age range

  • Channels had exhausted the "Top 10" and "From Hell" formats instead of trying to build more diverse schedules.

    But the report noted that complaints about violence, sex scenes and language all fell last year.

    And their had been significant progress over 2001 in creating a "digital Britain" with around 40% of UK homes now connected to digital services.

  • See also:

    02 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
    TV 'ignores' ethnic minorities
    15 Apr 02 | TV and Radio
    Bloody Sunday films 'not biased'
    06 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
    BBC should 'focus on quality'
    10 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
    Dyke not 'dumbing down' BBC
    26 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
    ITV under fire from watchdog
    24 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
    Campaigners urge TV turn-off
    30 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
    What does the ITC do?
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