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75 years of Non-Disabled TV

From Roger Cliffe-Thompson

Friday, 4 November 2011


For the past four years I have been personally writing to each of the trustees of the BBC Trust to try and get them to meet what I consider to be their obligations to the Deaf and disabled community, (eleven million people by the BBC's own reckoning.)

In spite of my constant prompting and questioning ( only ninety four staff BBC staff received disability equality training out of seventeen thousand last year,) there have been many new presenters on mainstream programmes but none are Deaf or disabled!

Further, their 2011 statistics show that disabled people only account for 3.8% of the BBC's workforce so no wonder the 'public face' of mainstream BBC TV is also essentially non-disabled. No wonder that 50% of disabled people are out of work and disability is top of the hate crime statistics, because the public doesn't see disabled people as part of society as the BBC simply refuse to include them in their broadcasts.

£145.50 is a not inconsiderable sum for Deaf and disabled people to find, yet they still have to pay a license fee, which means even if they switch channels they can never effectively turn BBC TV off!

Unlike Channel 4 who are making great strides in employing disabled presenters and Noel Edmunds, 'Deal Or No Deal' which is totally inclusive and does not charge a license fee.

From David Telford

Friday, 4 November 2011

Good point, of course when the BBC does get inclusive, it does so in such a clumsey right on way, it looks like they are doing everyone a favour.

The BBC has had it's day in my book. It should be privatised, remove the ridiculous TV tax and introduce choice.

If it were privatised, it would raise £billions.

Channel 4 does recive some TV tax funding but it acts to satisfy it's customer in a way the BBC simply does not.

From Ian M

Saturday, 5 November 2011

What about the Cbeebies presenter Carrie Burnell? Mainstream presenter and disabled. Perhaps you are seeing an issue where one doesn't exist!

From Myra James

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Addressing the general point made about the BBC rather than the issue of inclusion and disability, as far as I am concerned "Frozen Planet" alone is well worth the licence fee. Add in great dramas like "Spooks" (sadly no more) and "Hidden", along with a range of comedy and light entertainment, and I find it pretty good value for money - especially now that we have access to BBC 4 in the valley as well. I just hope the BBC will be able to continue to offer quality programming as the cuts make themselves felt.

From David Telford

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Myra James, the likes of "Frozen Planet" is good telly but that's your choice. Why should the whole country be taxed £188 - £232 of their gross salary for your choice of telly watching? I liked "Frozen Planet" myself but I really don't feel I should be subsidised by someone who say earns £12,000 p.a and can just afford £25 2nd hand portable and doesn't have time to consume a lot of BBC TV.

That guy is taxed at exactly the same contribution as a local council chief exec on over £200,000 and has lots of large cinema quality HD tv's, internet access, radios etc? Of course the middle classes find the BBC pretty good value for money but not everyone does.

A TV company should not be subject to political policies. Privatising the BBC will not affect the quality of programs, it will make the BBC more competitive, bring more revenues into the UK coffers and the sale of it will be able to fund hospitals, disabled issues etc etc. I for one think that is more important.

From Andy M

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Mr Tumble is pretty good on CBeebies too...

From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 11 November 2011

Roger, I've signed your petition, but with reservations.

I agree that employers, particularly braodcasters, like the BBC should employ more disabled people as presenters, weather forecasters etc. I don't think employers take their duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled job applicants seriously enough and this puts many disabled people at a huge disadvantage in the labour market (whilst at the same time benefits for out-of-work disabled people are being restricted). Goverment has also been whittling away at the 'access to work' programme which provides subsidy to employers making reasonable adjustments and are thus compounding the problem, and adding to the injustice of the work/ benefits system. National organisations like the BBC ought to be in the vanguard of progressive employers who are prepared to tackle this issue, but clearly they're not.

That's why I've signed the petition.

However, I don't think people should withhold their licence fee because their equality group is under -represented amongst BBC staff. If you set that precedent, then all sorts of groups could argue the same case with absurd results. Nevertheless, I support the principle behind the petition and I'm pleased that someone is doing something about the issue. Good luck to you! Disabled people deserve a stronger voice nationally, and locally!

BTW, imho the way this thread has wandered off the topic entirely away from disabled people is just another example of how our disabling society ignores disabled people!

From Roger Cliffe-Thompson

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Many thanks for signing the petition. My point is not to take money from anyone but after four years of inaction it seemed that the only way the BBC would start showing deaf and disabled people as an integral part of society (which they do with BEM minorities which is great and is reflected in their employment statistics of 17.8% BEM as opposed to disabled of 3.8%) is if they were threatened with a reduction in funding.

My intent was to raise awareness and so far out of all the MP's I have managed to contact, 14 have signed the petition which for me is a massive step forward. However and with great respect citing Cerrie Burnell as adequate representation of the 'largest' minority group in the UK just doesn't wash with me.

In my book I am sure that Cerrie doesn't want to be seen as the BBC's token disabled female presenter, she would want to succeed on her talent e.g she was extremely funny when she was part of the Nasty Girls. Surely we shouldn't even need to comment on the fact that she is disabled. Yes she recently appeared on Egg Heads and Dame Tammy gave out the BBC Personality of the year award, that's great and maybe at last the BBC are starting to get the message.

But how are we ever going to get accepted as being part of twenty first century Britain if we are to be kept in the shadows and seem as the exception instead of the norm? Is it any wonder we are 50% unemployed and disability hate crime tops the list? Noel Edmunds Deal or no Deal, like it or not, is the only programme in the UK that is totally inclusive, yet we are not charged for watching. If he can do it why can't the BBC?

How many BBC quiz shows - discussion programmes include deaf people in the audience? By my count none! Yet when Lord Patten took over as the chair of the BBC Trust last April and said there weren't enough women presenters, the BBC jumped to it and by my count there have been eight new faces since he started. Great but no deaf or disabled!

The BBC just doesn't get it and I am sorry to say this they are systemically disablist. But because it's the BBC it seems to be universally accepted as OK. A classic example of how disablist their thinking is, is this year's Christmas promo "Consider yourself one of us". Watch it yourself and count how many disabled people feature in it! Zero!

Anyway after complaining to Lord Patten under the heading 'Consider yourself one of us ... if you're not disabled.' The full version seems to have been pulled so perhaps we are getting somewhere. It is my fond hope that the BBC will eventually come round to presenting deaf and disabled people as a matter of course as they do with other minority groups because if we can succeed with them then perhaps ITV, etc will follow.

Anyway may I thank you for at least airing the issue and may I wish everyone concerned at HebWeb all the very best for 2012. Roger C-T.