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2 Mar, 2023 13:58

Almost half of UK viewers think minorities over-represented on TV – poll

British television features a disproportionate number of ethnic and sexual minorities, respondents told YouGov
Almost half of UK viewers think minorities over-represented on TV – poll

Ethnic minorities and members of the LGBT community are over-represented on television, according to almost half of viewers surveyed by YouGov. The poll comes amid a deliberate push for ‘diversity’ among advertisers.

Some 45% of British viewers said that there are more ethnic minorities on television than in the population, according to a summary of the poll published by The Times on Tuesday. Only 26% thought that ethnic minorities were under-represented.

A similar figure, 44%, said that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are over-represented on the small screen.

YouGov ran the same poll in France, Italy, Spain, Chile, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia, and found that viewers in all of these other countries were more likely to say that both groups were under-represented.

On internet forums, social media platforms, and online comment sections, viewers have long complained about the apparently disproportionate airtime given to minorities, particularly since ‘woke’ ideology entered the cultural mainstream over the last decade. While there is little authoritative research to back up or disprove these claims, a number of studies suggest that the demographics seen on TV might not represent reality.

A 2017 survey of 500 companies found that marketing departments were so concerned about being accused of racism or homophobia that they were using fewer straight, white models and actors in their advertisements. A third of these companies said that they used fewer white people and heterosexuals over the preceding year, with a third of this number saying that they had done so to “prevent perceived discrimination.”

A study by the Campaign for Common Sense last year noted that ‘The Responder’, a BBC production, depicted almost half of the Merseyside Police force as black or Asian, despite both of these groups combined making up less than 1% of the force’s officers. The study found the same issue with several other BBC series, and accused the state broadcaster of “warping modern Britain.”

Black people make up around 3% of the British population, Asians (a term that in the UK includes Middle Easterners) account for 7%, while LGBT people make up less than 4%. However, a 2022 survey by the Campaign for Common Sense discovered that British people think that 20% of the population is black, 17% Asian, and 30% LGBT. The organization identified “a disproportionate portrayal of minority groups in the media” as one factor that could explain this discrepancy.