Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show on 2 June, Yentob said the BBC was “not being complacent” in terms of tackling diversity and backed Hall’s plans under fire from former RTS boss Simon Albury.
The diversity blueprint, which Hall unveiled on June 20 at Elstree Studios, includes a £2.1m Diversity Creative Talent Fund, two leadership development programmes, new staff diversity targets and intern schemes. It also included the creation of an independent board to keep the BBC’s progress in check.
Yentob admitted that it was “difficult to make excuses” for the lack of progress in improving how black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are represented on- and off-screen at the BBC. But he lauded Hall’s idea to train a new generation of BAME commissioners, which he said will “make a difference”.
Yentob argued that the Independent Diversity Action Group, which will include the likes of Lenny Henry and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, would “not be ignored and will be there to hold the BBC to account”.
He added that the BBC “would not be excused if the targets aren’t met”, adding that Hall’s personal dedication to the scheme would ensure its success.
“The person running this is the director general of the BBC – he has not delegated it to someone else – he feels passionate about this and he wants to get it right,” Yentob said.
Albury, the chair of the Campaign for Broadcasting Equality, argued that the BBC’s failure to adopt Henry’s quota-led strategy meant there is “nothing in the plan to drive BAME employment.” He added that tougher BBC targets on diversity were “in the long grass beyond license renewal”.