Channel 5 boss calls broadcast executives 'too white, too male'

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The Independent Online

Channel 5 News, the programme that earlier this month poached Kirsty Young from ITV to make her Britain's best-paid newsreader, is "too white", the network's director of programmes said yesterday.

Kevin Lygo, the former head of entertainment and music at Channel 4, told a conference on ethnic diversity in television that he believed the channel needs to bring in presenters from different backgrounds.

The meeting of the Cultural Diversity Network, a body set up to improve representation and participation of minorities, was told by Mr Lygo that senior television executives remain too "white, male and middle class".

Mr Lygo said his new employer had a good record in portraying ethnic minorities in drama and comedy. He joined Channel 5 in May after bringing such talents as Ali G to prominence.

But he added: "What I don't think we've done very well is that our news and the people broadcasting news are very white. It is something that we can address very quickly."

The station announced three weeks ago that it succeeded in luring Ms Young back from ITN to present its early-evening flagship news programme with a £1m, two-year deal.

One media analyst said of Mr Lygo: "He is seen as one of the more innovative talents. Targeting the imbalances at Channel 5 – including the lack of ethnic [minority] news presenters – is important if it is to win larger audiences."

The conference was told by Lord Ouseley, the prominent racial equality campaigner, that television executives needed to do more to turn promises on diversity into action.