Trevor Phillips – Chair, CRELetter of Support

The EMMA Awards were established because representation of ethnic communities in the media matters. They were established at a time when ethnic minorities were not completely absent as in the past but when we were just beginning to see more of us in the business.

Some things have changed in that time, and now we are better reflected both on the front page and the small screen. These awards themselves have helped bring about change; first by showing that reporting on race isn’t just a moral or civic duty – but that it can produce brilliant journalism too.

To begin to redress the failures and stereotyping, our next task is to ensure that decision makers within the media – that those who commission and produce as well as control, publish, schedule and administer – reflect the whole community.

In 1998, I publicly invited the industry to open up its boardrooms and executive teams to a more diverse range of talent. I offered a magnum of champagne to the person who could name more than six ethnic minority heads at department level or above in broadcasting. I still have the bottle, and I fear that I will for some time to come.

In a nutshell, the media has a role as the mirror to our nation’s cultural identity. And it matters that stories and programmes have a very real, negative effect on the lives of me and my family, our friends and our communities.

Many white people’s idea of black people is formed by what they see in the media. The more the media reinforces the image of black people as terrorists, cheats, gangsters, whores and scroungers, the more we suffer.

The stakes are high; racism it is not all the media’s fault or responsibility, but the media can promote change or stand in its way. So writers and broadcasters have an awesome responsibility – to paint the complete picture of the Britain that exists now, including all kinds of Britons.

We need to hear voices different from that of the dominant culture. Without them our media and we will be starved of inspiration. Secondly, there are practical reasons. If we want to find new talent, it makes common sense to reach out to the areas we haven’t explored before.

There is no doubt that the new Britain is a multicultural, multiracial society and will be that way for good. The nearly ten percent of non-white Britons are rooted here and now consider themselves British. What’s more, pretty much everybody else agrees.

EMMA is both a celebration of all those people who are working to change things, who produce work that has got it right. I am sure that the awards will be a huge success and I would like to add my thanks to all of those who have put so much effort into them.

Trevor Phillips

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