UK broadcasters have made a commitment to end the use of the acronym BAME “wherever possible” in favour of specificity, as recommended by a report from the Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity.
In a rare joint press statement, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Viacom-owned Channel 5 said they will all try and move away from the catch-all description, which the researchers found has a lack of trust around. The research, which included interviews with journalists, academics and focus groups, found that the collective term had been “used to hide failings in the representation of specific ethnic groups”.
“The move towards specificity, and away from a catch-all term, paves the way for greater acknowledgement of the unique experience of people from different ethnic backgrounds and offers insight into the issues facing specific groups,” said the statement, which was backed with quotes from diversity chiefs at all major broadcasters.
The networks will instead use more specific terms whenever they are available as part of the industry’s drive to focus on increasing representation and boosting diversity, inclusion and equity by acknowledging the unique experiences of people from different ethnic backgrounds.
If necessary to use, the report recommended BAME be broken out in full wherever possible as “Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic” or individual groups be referred to in full when broadcasters are being more specific.
It raised concerns over the use of alternatives such as Ethnic Minorities or People of Colour and said there are a number of emerging terms such as Black and Global Majority which, although they may have merit, lack a general consensus.
The 71-page in-depth review, which was authored by the Lenny Henry Centre’s Sarita Malik, Marcus Ryder, Stevie Marsden, Robert Lawson and Matt Gee, said the term’s use has exploded since last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, a time when “specificity and nuance” are really what has been required.
“It is perhaps no surprise that the data has found widespread ambivalence towards and even a rejection of the term,” said the report’s conclusion. “Notably, the source of the concerns and basis for rejecting it also varies, which only goes to highlight the heterogeneity amongst the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.”
The acronym may still be used in reported speech and official documents but will usually be accompanied by an explanation i.e., specific information on a particular ethnic group not being available.
All broadcasters will move away from using the term in their newsrooms and corporate communications.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a drive for the term BAME to drop out of official usage.
Last year, the British music industry was urged to stop using the “outdated and offensive” term, by the body representing record labels and musicians.
A taskforce set up by UK Music said the term for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people was seen by many as “misleading and inappropriate”.
Taskforce chairman and record shop owner Ammo Talwar, described it as a “careless catch-all acronym”.