BBC media editor Amol Rajan tells director general Lord Hall about his colleagues’ fears the corporation is becoming ‘the broadcasting wing of the BLM movement’
- Outgoing director-general Tony Hall appeared on The Media Show yesterday
- BBC media editor Amol Rajan asked him about his tenure as head of the BBC
- Mr Rajan said listeners and BBC colleagues had ‘deep concern’ that ‘the BBC has in effect become the broadcasting wing of the Black Lives Matter movement’
Outgoing director general Tony Hall appeared on The Media Show yesterday to discuss the crises and successes of his time in charge of the outlet, covering topics including diversity, TV licenses and controversies over the use of the n-word.
Turning to the subject of race and equality, Mr Rajan told Lord Hall there were worries over the broadcasting giant’s stance on certain issues.
He said: ‘Several Radio 4 listeners and some senior BBC News colleagues have been in touch with me to raise deep concern that in their view the BBC has in effect become the broadcasting wing of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘One veteran highly respected correspondent here wrote to me: ”Amol, challenging racial prejudice is a noble cause, but should it be the BBC’s cause? Shouldn’t we just be reporting?”
‘What do you say to that?’
Outgoing director-general Tony Hall appeared on The Media Show yesterday to discuss the crises and successes of his time in charge of the outlet, covering topics including diversity, TV licenses and controversies over the use of the n-word
Amol Rajan said: ‘Several Radio 4 listeners and some senior BBC News colleagues have been in touch with me to raise deep concern that in their view the BBC has in effect become the broadcasting wing of the Black Lives Matter movement’
Lord Hall, who took up the post of director general in April 2013, responded by saying that ‘diversity matters’, and ‘getting it right in terms of our broadcasting matters too’.
He continued: ‘I think ensuring that we are employing people of diverse background, black, Asian, minority ethnic backgrounds, both front and behind the camera is fantastically important.
‘And in that way I go back to, that’s the way you get that diversity of thinking into your programme areas, into your news bulletins, into the dramas and other things that you’re doing.
‘That’s why it matters and I have to say we’re making a lot of progress on that.
‘Having a fund to commission from existing monies £100million worth of content, of programmes from diverse backgrounds is important – and equally having a 20 per cent target for people behind camera and behind microphone from black and Asian minority ethnic backgrounds is important too.’
Later in the interview he said that he hoped people could feel they could ‘feel safe in the workplace to say what they think’.
The BBC has faced controversy after it was revealed they would drop the singing of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from the Last Night of the Proms this year – though they will still be played instrumentally.
Mr Rajan asked Lord Hall if the songs were ever going to be dropped from Last Night of the Proms.
He replied: ‘Look we’ve, I think, my view about the Proms is it’s a miracle that David Pickard and the team have done something which I think’s really important which is to have two weeks of music at the end of the Proms season of live music–‘
Mr Rajan asked again, mentioning a series of newspaper front pages and a ‘huge amount of noise on social media’ about the issue, asking if there was a discussion about dropping those songs because of their association with Britain’s imperial past.
Mr Rajan also asked Lord Hall if Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia were ever going to be dropped from Last Night of the Proms (pictured in 2013)
Lord Hall replied: ‘They’ve come to the right conclusion, which is actually–‘
Mr Rajan interrupted: ‘So there was a discussion?’
‘Well the whole thing has been discussed by David and his colleagues, of course it has,’ Lord Hall said.
He added: ‘The point is they’ve come to the right conclusion which is it’s very very hard in an Albert Hall that takes over 5,000 people to have the atmosphere of the Last Night of the Proms and to have things where the whole audience normally sing along, it’s quite hard creatively, artistically to make that work.
‘I think they’ve come to the right conclusion, which is actually to include it instrumentally and who knows what will happen next year, I suspect it will be back.’
Mr Rajan asked if in principle Lord Hall would be happy for the lyrics to be sung, despite any association it might have with Britain’s imperial past.
Lord Hall said: ‘Well look, the fact is we’ve come to the right conclusion which is a creative conclusion, which is an artistic conclusion, which is, you know, it’s there, and it’s there in a medley of playing around sea shanties and all of that, I suspect it will be back next year.’