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Channel 4 urged to expand ethnic programming

Comedians Lenny Henry and Michael Palin and Booker-winning novelist Ben Okri have joined a campaign to force Channel 4 to broadcast three hours of ethnic minority programming during peak time each week.

The campaign - which is being led by Baroness Amos, former head of the Equal Opportunities Commission - is trying to take advantage of an review of Channel 4's licence that is under way. The Independent Television Commission is already proposing to make Channel 4 show fewer repeats and more UK- produced programmes, and now the Channel 4 Licence Campaign is looking for a stronger commitment to ethnic minority programmes in peak time.

"We need to create a warm haven of diversity on Channel 4," said Ben Okri, author of The Famished Road. "Three hours of peak time programming, used wisely, can only be a force for good, for openness and for friendship amongst all people in Britain."

Other supporters of the campaign include Lord Desai and the broadcaster Trevor Philips.