Why isn’t our press more diverse?: Samir Shah

Chief executive, Juniper Communications and former head of current affairs at the BBC

When I joined the BBC back in 1987 to run its current affairs department, every Wednesday morning top TV executives would meet in a windowless basement room in Television Centre. On the face of it, it was to review the week's output. In reality, it was where ambitious heads of department staked their claim to be the next controller of BBC1 or BBC2. By the time I had figured this out, it was too late.

It matters: what you see and hear depends on their decisions; and it's a step on the way to the commanding heights of executive power - the main boards of our broadcasters. Despite manifest progress elsewhere, this is where the dominance of a particular social and cultural group persists. Why is this? Not racism, but a failure to understand the rules of the game. If you haven't imbibed them with your mother's milk, or from your school housemaster or Oxford tutor, you need to learn them fast.

However, to follow the diktat "Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more" is not so easy (and if you need that translating, you really do need to learn the rules). Does playing the game mean abandoning your roots and culture? Is being a deracinated success worth it? Possibly: if you win, you may be able to rewrite the rules.

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