Krishnan Guru-Murthy says it is time for a black or Asian boss of a UK TV channel – The Guardian

Exclusive: Channel 4 News presenter to make case in speech to station’s Inclusion festival on Wednesday
Krishnan Guru-Murthy has suggested it is time for a black or Asian person to run a British television channel, warning that a lack of diversity among top executives is causing problems for the industry.
The Channel 4 News presenter will say that, although Jewish people have been well-represented at the top levels, there are “still no black or Asian people running our biggest broadcasters” in a speech on Wednesday afternoon.
Guru-Murthy will say television has done well in terms of on-screen diversity, but this often masks a monoculture among the power makers behind-the-scenes: “We have, I have argued before, already seen what happens when you get a lack of diversity in broadcasting management. It gets judgments wrong, or doesn’t appear to know how to react.”
He will highlight mistakes, such as when Channel 4 bungled the Big Brother racism row and the BBC’s missteps in 2019 when it censured Naga Munchetty after she offered her personal view on comments by Donald Trump. “Without a diversity of thought at the top you are inevitably going to end up sometimes taking the wrong decisions,” he will say.
Guru-Murthy, who is the longest serving Channel 4 News presenter after the departure of Jon Snow, will say he experienced racism while growing up in 1980s Lancashire. “Like any kid who grew up as a minority, even in a relatively well off, middle class life, I’d been called racist names, pushed around and picked on by a racist bully, had NF for National Front written on my blazer and school books. My religious education teacher – a Church of England vicar – asked me to do a talk to the class about what he called ‘Idol worship’. I remember my mum bristling when I asked her what to say – ‘They’re Gods not idols’, she replied.”
Despite this, he will say his Asian background helped him early in his career when the BBC gave him his first presenting slot aged 18: “The fact I was brown wasn’t a problem – it was a bonus.”
The presenter is due to make the comments in a speech to Channel 4’s Inclusion festival on Wednesday, which will cover the issue of representation in the media – including ethnicity, transgender people, and disability.
His speech comes the day after the UK’s latest census showed a large uptick in the proportion of Britons from a minority background. He will suggest one issue that ambitious people from minority backgrounds may see greater power and earning potential in running their own television production companies. But this risks accepting that the gatekeepers of the industry “never truly reflect the audiences they serve”.
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But he will also warn there will be opposition from people who feel their careers’ are being harmed by the push for diversity: “There is already no shortage of white, middle-aged men in television who – right or wrong – feel their career progression is hopeless, that the promotions will go to minorities. There is a danger that inclusion will be contested, especially as economic conditions become more depressed. So the case for inclusion will need to constantly be made, and every day we need to ask are we representing the nation as it is? And what new ideas can we bring to what inclusion means?”


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