Belfast Telegraph

June Sarpong given newly-created role to make the BBC ‘more inclusive’

Lord Tony Hall has welcomed the appointment.

June Sarpong will join the BBC. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
June Sarpong will join the BBC. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

By Craig Simpson, PA

June Sarpong has been appointed by the BBC to make the broadcaster “more inclusive”.

The presenter has been chosen by the corporation for the newly-created role of director of creative diversity.

BBC bosses hope the appointment will make the broadcaster better reflect modern Britain and its audience.

Sarpong will step into the new position with the intention of levelling the playing field for upcoming talents, and “create systemic change”.

It follows a week in which the BBC has been embroiled in a racism row over comments made by Naga Munchetty about Donald Trump, which provoked a fierce public backlash and criticism of silencing minority voices.

It also follows a report published earlier this year in which the BBC said it was “more diverse than ever” after releasing figures revealing the broadcaster now has the highest proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in its history.

Director General Lord Tony Hall, who reversed the breach of guidelines ruling against Munchetty, has said the new appointment will help build on the BBC’s work.

Sarpong said of the new role: “As we move on from National Inclusion Week and begin Black History Month, I am particularly humbled to step into the newly created role of creative diversity director for the BBC.

“I relish the challenge of working with senior leadership to make the BBC more inclusive and representative of the broad and diverse audience it serves.

“The task is indeed daunting, however being awarded the opportunity to help level the playing field for the next generation of diverse talent, makes the obstacles and discrimination I have personally faced throughout my own career all the more worthwhile.

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Naga Munchetty has been the centre of a BBC row after comments she made about Donald Trump’s rhetoric (Peter Byrne/PA)

“I look forward to collaborating with diversity and inclusion industry stakeholders to find new and productive ways to create systemic change.”

It is understood Sarpong will work to improve BBC’s on-air representation and will work on strategies to increase this across the BBC and its partners.

She will provide expertise on all diversity matters, and lead the BBC’s relationship with media watchdog Ofcom.

Sarpong will also work with diversity monitoring group Diamond, which measures the diversity profiles of UK media staff.

Lord Hall said: “I am delighted that June Sarpong is joining the BBC.

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BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall has welcomed the appointment (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“While we have made significant progress on diversity, we also have to accept that the BBC has much further to go.

“June’s drive, ambition, and know-how, will help further transform the BBC’s programming to ensure that we truly reflect the public we serve.

“She will have a wide remit to deliver change, and I have no doubt that with her help and leadership, we will deliver it. I am determined that we have a BBC that continues to speak to and for everyone. June will help us achieve that.”

Sarpong began her career on radio, before becoming a presenter for MTV, and Loose Women, and then taking a seat on the Sky News debate show, The Pledge.

She has also engaged in advocacy work, and was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her charity work.

PA

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