I read with great interest the comments that Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, made regarding diversity at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge (Ofcom chief tells UK broadcasters to reflect 'society as it is today', 17 September). I agree with her sentiments that "British broadcasting must represent the diverse nature of Britain of today" in terms of regionality and ethnic diversity both in front and behind the camera.
Ofcom already plays a vital role in ensuring that there is regional diversity in television. It was Ofcom that stipulated the minimum amount of programming that Channel 4 should produce in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland when it was last awarded its licence. Ofcom also defines what is a regional production for all broadcasters (including the BBC) to ensure that they play fair and make sure "out of London" productions really are "out of London" productions and are not just "brass-plated" programmes.
Ofcom can play a similar role in ensuring the same level playing field for ethnic diversity as it does for regional diversity. Ofcom could define what true "diversity" in television actually means - as opposed to leaving it up to the best intentions of each broadcaster to come up with their own definition.
And once Ofcom has done that, it can then stipulate how much of a broadcaster's programming should be diverse in order to meet its licence requirements.
These definitions or rules don't have to be slapped down on each channel from on high. They can be measures that are drawn up with the broadcasters. The objective here is to reflect our incredibly rich national identity back to us so that we have a deeper understanding of our past and our present. I believe it will help our society form a more cohesive present and future.
Ofcom has done a brilliant job in ensuring we have a steady flow of regionally diverse programmes on our TV screens.
It's great news that Sharon White recognises the need for TV to also reflect Britain's racial diversity. Many channels, after being presented with the figures, have recognised that need too. It would be a great step forward if Ofcom could find words that would provide programmers with the necessary guidelines to create real change.