Influential Black media figure Marcus Ryder will take up BBC director general Tim Davies’ offer to meet for a private discussion over claims that the executive blocked Ryder’s appointment to a senior news role within the organization, Variety can confirm.
A source tells Variety that Ryder and Davie are scheduled to meet in early November.
The row erupted after Ryder — a former head of current affairs at BBC Scotland who is now a visiting professor at the Lenny Henry Centre For Media Diversity and chair of prestigious drama school RADA — was invited to apply for the role of executive editor overseeing radio news program Newsbeat and radio station Asian Network.
However, following the BBC’s appointment of an internal candidate, journalist Danielle Dwyer, for the role, reports emerged that the decision had come from the top of the corporation after Davie allegedly “blocked” Ryder’s appointment, fearing it would be controversial.
Ryder, who was not available to comment, was recently cited as one of the U.K.’s most influential Black media figures in The Powerlist 2022 and has co-authored a book with actor Lenny Henry entitled “Black British Lives Matter.” In 2020 he was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in the media, which he will collect in a ceremony at Windsor Castle in November.
Sources told the Daily Mail, which first reported the news, that Davie made the decision following the furore around the appointment of former HuffPost U.K. editor Jess Brammar in September, which led to accusations of the BBC furthering a left-leaning bias within the corporation.
“Tim’s whole problem is that we don’t hire campaigners,” a source reportedly told the Mail. “Of course the counterargument to that is that you can leave your politics at the door and come in but I think Tim had been rather burnt by the Jess Brammar thing. He wasn’t up for the whole row going around again.”
Adding fuel to the fire, claims subsequently emerged that the BBC’s employees were complaining about a lack of inclusivity in the corporation’s hiring and employment practices a year ago. The Times of London reported that in a meeting between BBC News staff and executives in 2020, BAME employees cited difficulty in achieving career progression or pay equality as well as overcoming majority white interview panels, with one employee even saying “The BBC remains an elitist and colonial throwback” during the meeting.
A BBC spokesperson told Variety: “We are committed to being an inclusive and welcoming organization which reflects the diversity of the U.K. both on and off screen, and we have targets to boost representation at the centre of our Diversity and Inclusion Plan which launched earlier this year.”