Delivering a Public Service? The BBC Asian Network and British Asian audiences.
This thesis examines how minority ethnic producers employed by the BBC Asian Network, the BBC’s only ethnic specific digital radio station, construct a distinctive audience for the broadcaster. The study looks at the challenges, barriers and conflicts that have emerged as a consequence of BBC strategic attempts to make the radio station relevant for younger British Asian listeners. This research sets out to fill a gap regarding the experiences of ethnic staff working within a public service remit. This type of study is necessary because evidence suggests the number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff working in the media remain small and this impacts the views articulated in the media. The study combines a production studies approach with a grounded theory framework for the analysis of thirty in-depth interviews with editors, producers and presenters working at the BBC Asian Network. Three different audience strategies are examined from the perspective of staff working at the station: 2006 young strategy, 2009 friend of the family and 2016, young digital native. What is also exposed through the in-depth interviews is the existence of an internal divide between two groups of minority ethic staff; the older traditional British Asian staff members who are concerned about the dilution of ‘Asian’ identity, and the younger group, comprised of third or fourth generation British Asians, who are likely to be integrated and better placed to promote a broad vision of British Asian identity. The interviews illustrate that a rigid gatekeeping system limits the dissemination of original journalism about the British Asian communities because the wider BBC ignores or marginalises the expertise and stories pitched by minority ethnic journalists working at the BBC Asian Network. Therefore, this thesis evaluates how the BBC as a public service broadcaster, articulates and manages issues pertaining to race and ethnicity within the organisation. The study is significant and timely, because the BBC as a public service broadcaster, is under increased pressure since the Charter Renewal in 2016, to demonstrate that it is taking diversity seriously, and meet its own self-imposed diversity initiatives; in terms of the recruitment of staff from minority backgrounds, both on-air and behind the scenes, and improve the representation of minority groups in content. This study explores the BBC’s endeavours to attract minority listeners through music, news and programme content on the contemporary BBC Asian Network. The study focuses upon a period of time between 2006 and 2018.
- PhD