Ethnic minority groups have accused broadcasters of perpetuating racial stereotypes with token characters in a report which says their efforts to reflect a multicultural society are "very poor".
Channel 4 commissioned the report from Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and a former television producer, after last year's Celebrity Big Brother race row. He commissioned research which found most white viewers felt broadcasters did a satisfactory job, but black and Asian groups accused mainstream broadcasters of tokenism and exaggerated representations.
Such attitudes had also led to a lack of minority people in positions of power within the industry, they said.
Part of the problem were soap opera characters such as Dev and Dev, Asian corner-shop owners in Coronation Street, pictured, and Denise, a black single mother who has two children by different fathers in EastEnders, the report found.
Mr Phillips called for a financial levy on every TV show to pay for schemes to promote diversity. "What we need is a mechanism to bend resources and action in the direction of making things happen," he said.