Ian Burrell: Diversity won us the Olympics, but it may not be presenting them on TV

Viewpoint

Remember the 30 East End kids of all colours who flew to Singapore with David Beckham and Sir Steve Redgrave and helped to swing us the Olympics from under the noses of the French? Britain's bid to stage the 2012 Games was based in no small part on "London's unmatched cultural wealth and ethnic diversity", to use the words of that great Olympian Lord Coe.

Yet as the BBC works on finalising its presenting line-up for its biggest sporting broadcast in history, there are fears that the coverage will not reflect the global city that the IOC delegates voted for. Instead, viewers – including millions of Olympic tourists – might be tuning in to trusted stalwarts such as John Inverdale and Sue Barker. Among media workers in groups such as the Black Collective of Media in Sport (Bcoms), there is a growing resentment that "diversity" is used in marketing pitches in attempts to host prestige events such as the World Cup and the Olympics, then forgotten when it comes to reporting them. Rodney Hinds, the long-standing sports editor of The Voice, says: "The Olympics was sold on diversity, but I'm not sure we are going to see that on television, away from the athletes. It does seem to have come off the agenda."

There are deep concerns that the car-crash performance of rookie black presenter Ortis Deley on Channel 4's recent coverage of the World Athletics Championships in South Korea could scare off executives from taking risks. Deley, who was best known for co-hosting Channel 5's The Gadget Show, looked out of his depth and was mocked in headlines for having "dropped the baton". A montage of his gaffes was cruelly posted online as a "presenting masterclass". The Deley fiasco was especially tough viewing for other ethnic minority media workers hoping for a chance in front of the camera. But as one Bcoms member says, Deley wasn't solely to blame. "Why wasn't someone in his ear directing him to the next link? Why wasn't he covered with pictures when he was struggling? These things are standard in television. The problems were across the whole production process but that was never mentioned in the coverage."

Questioned on the issue, a BBC spokesman said: "We aim to ensure our teams reflect contemporary London and the wider UK in all our coverage related to London 2012 next year. We will seek to strike the right balance of experience, fresh faces, insight and enthusiasm throughout the day and from the various venues."

Diversity is increasingly treated as a historic issue. It is seen as belonging to another era, something that was dealt with in the Nineties following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. But Hinds and other members of Bcoms point out that the British media carried a full debate on whether British sport had something to learn from the Rooney Rule, which compels teams in the American NFL to interview ethnic minority candidates for senior coaching roles. "From my viewpoint it's something that could be implemented in areas of [British] sport, including the sports media," Hinds says.

 

Lord Ouseley, the former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, says that black faces are still at the margins of British sports programmes, no matter how prominent they now are on the field of play. "They are the guests or the co-presenters and not the leaders; they are seen as decorative," he says.

The peer, who chairs the football-based Kick It Out campaign, which this month is running a "One Game, One Community" initiative, says he is disappointed that Manish Bhasin, host of the BBC's coverage of the Football League, has been "pushed into a backwater" of a late-night slot. "That's out of the reach of young kids," he says. The Olympics coverage will not be at the margins of the schedule – the BBC must ensure that its presenters are a mirror of the Great Britain that was awarded the Games.

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

DBA

£40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: DBA, London,...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game