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BBC radio host claims to struggle with ‘too many white colleagues’

A BBC radio host has claimed to be struggling with his mental health as he works in an overwhelmingly “white” working environment.

Speaking at a journalism diversity conference, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Nihal Arthanayake said the problem was causing an exodus from the company.


He told the Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) conference at BBC Media City in Salford that many were leaving the company due to the “culture.”

The presenter added that he has noticed a difference since moving to the north after living in London for 20 years.

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The presenter made the comments in an on-stage interview with editor of The Conversation, Jo Adetunji.

It was at the JDF’s annual equality, diversity and inclusion conference organised by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

He said: “It’s really affecting me that I walk in and all I see is white people…I’ve seen a lot of people leave this building because they couldn’t deal with the culture.

“If you want journalists to progress, they have to be who they are. I don’t think there’s a single Muslim involved in the senior editorial processes.”

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Nihal Arthanayake was speaking at the Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) conference at BBC Media City in Salford

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The JDF awards bursaries to aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds who do not have the financial means to support themselves through their training.

Arthanayake added: “The hardest thing is to walk into a room, look around and nobody looks like you.

“Since moving up here, being called the p-word – that didn’t happen in London.

“You’d get a slap for that in London, not even from me.”

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He said he doesn’t think there’s a single Muslim involved in the senior editorial processes

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Following the interview, Cheryl Varley, a BBC Radio 5 Live producer, said the organisation is committed to tackling the lack of diversity in its newsrooms.

After inviting the JDF bursary recipients for a tour of the newsroom at the end of the conference, she told them: “The BBC needs you a lot more than you need them because if we do not represent our audience, the future for the BBC is grim.”

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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