Europe has always been a diverse continent. Whether it’s religious, ethnic, linguistic or other differences, state boundaries have only rarely (if ever) corresponded with individual, homogeneous national groups. This has often led to conflict (and Europeans have a long history of bashing each other over the head) but it also means Europe has historically been a dynamic and culturally rich place to be.

Yet, that diversity is rarely represented in European media. Study after study has shown that minorities are disproportionately represented in media in the EU. And when minorities are represented (for example, in major European newspapers), they are often confined to the sports or crime pages.

In the UK, the comedian Lenny Henry has been campaigning for greater diversity on television – both in front of and behind the camera. Arguing that the representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the UK is “appalling” compared to their size within the British population, he wants to see funds put aside to boost their presence in the broadcasting industry. Henry argues that, if we want to see greater diversity on TV, in newspapers and in online media, then people working in the media industry also have to come from diverse backgrounds.

We’ve put together some of the facts and figures surrounding media and diversity in the EU into an infographic below (you can click for a larger version):


We had a comment sent in from one user arguing that a “meritocratic approach does not always work and there is need for regulation, especially when applicants are equally skilled”.

Should there be some sort of affirmative action in place in Europe’s media – be that quotas, tax incentives or public funds? We spoke to Samantha Asumadu, a documentary filmmaker who campaigns for greater media diversity in the UK and is founder of the website Media Diversified. How would she respond?

asumaduI absolutely do agree. I never thought I would, however I know the statistics, and there has to be a way to address this… I mean, since 2009, about two thousand ethnic minority people left the media industry in the UK. In the same period, employment grew by four thousand. Which means that for every black and Asian person that left the industry, two white people were given employment.

Those are stark statistics. And they’re not going to be addressed by a so-called ‘meritocratic’ approach… I’m not saying companies should employ unqualified black and Asian people, not at all, because there’s lots of qualified people. They just don’t get the chances.

Because, obviously, what you have is institutional structures, where the higher you go in an industry – any industry, but we’re talking about the media – the whiter it gets… If you don’t break through that sort of structural imbalance, where you get jobs for your mates and jobs for people that look like you, then you’ll never get anywhere. So, yes, I do believe there needs to be an accelerated program where black and Asian people are being put to the front of the queue, which really just means giving them an equal chance…

To get another reaction, we also spoke to Anne-Claire Orban, a media educator based in Belgium. What would she say?

orbanThere is absolutely a problem of minority representation in media, but quotas seem like quite an arbitrary way of solving it. Who would decide the quotas? I’m not sure that quotas would be the best practice in the media. I think it’s more about teaching young people to take a critical approach to the media, be aware of bias, do their research and get their news from a lot of different sources. It’s also important to encourage journalists to go out of their comfort zone, and interview people from different backgrounds, including minorities.

I think we do need to encourage greater minority representation in the media, but I’m not sure that quotas would be the solution.

Should there be quotas to ensure ethnic diversity in European media? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Humphrey King

51 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    I don’t like the idea of “quotas” rather a fairer and more often representation!! And that means giving qualified people if whatever background the opportunity and chance. Europe is now a diverse continent either we like it or not. And if we are serious about integration and solving issues of immigration, then more diversity in the media is a must. How can you integrate someone if you don’t give him a voice or a say in the country’s affairs?

  2. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    The idea of forced ‘ethnic diversity’ is just another tool in the integrationist toolbox & the result is always the same, alienation & resentment.

    A stupid idea which will always be implemented badly.

  3. avatar
    Jason Cotterill-Attaway

    Ethnic diversity quotas mean that poorer qualifield applicants get the job.

    The entertainment industry is protected (for obvious reasons), but such quotas should be illegal.

  4. avatar
    Vitor F Veiga

    Quotas dont solve anything. Work as to be done on people’s against prejudice and extremism

  5. avatar

    First of , who owns the mainstream media in europe?
    I will bet its a handfull of people!!!
    They also own or have interests in big corporations.
    So the question of diversity is rather unusual as the media is spun as needed..

  6. avatar
    Paul X

    Utterly gob smacked by Samantha Asumadu’s statement…

    “I do believe there needs to be an accelerated program where black and Asian people are being put to the front of the queue”

    Utter racist inspired cr@p from someone who clearly has a big chip on their shoulder about their colour…..so why draw the line at Black and Asians pushing to the front of the queue?…. disabled, cross dressers,ugly people, short people, fat people….basically anyone who thinks they are disadvantaged by their looks has equal right to jump the queue as Blacks and Asian…

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ Paul X:

      I think you will find they have already done that in the BBC UK. Yesterday I sat and watched the daily politics show and it was a disaster of diversity.

      Two people were either of Indian or Asian background. One of them, the woman, did have an intellgience, but she was unkept and so scruffy as a woman it made me feel totally devastated. The guy was simply a mouthpiece trying to emulate an upper class accent whilst he was wanting to cover his accent. He looked absurd. The other two were also women, three women one man, one of them was disabled in a wheelchair and the presenter, a middle aged nincompoop who thinks she is accepted as genious. She is so political uninformed it is a tragedy. This is dumbing our media down to the point of it not being able to inform any more.

      It was boring at best, but, an embarassment of outrageous proportions. It was very frightening indeed. This march continues under a so called Conservative government, whilst those in the street believe it is a Labour or solcialist policy. No one really understanding this administration has let in 300 thousand immigrants last year, more than ever before in our country. Even though this horrific party of coalition has been in place for five years. Abnd of course they tell us it is because of the EU, yet, when you check who is coming in the millions it is those from outside of Europe,

      Then if you look at what they are putting up for us to vote for. You have to sratch your head in shame. Is this what GB has come to? A bunch of forced on us losers who simply brown nose their way to power. Whilst they wait to do a Charlie Hebdo on us all.

      However, a friend of mine said recently, we will get the people we deserve to govern us. Any country or people that sits down and allows the takeover and destruction of its culture and civilisation, is asking for all they get. The powerful always want to eliminate those who will oppose them. And in a democracy, or so called democracy, they want this more than breath.


      Here is another example of British television as a front view of what they are seeking to bring about. And it is all in the name of diversity. Do you know anyone who voted for this? Was there a referendum? Did they tell you about it in their manifesto? Or, did they force it on you without a word? Then let you know it was their policy once it is in your face after the fact. Then they spout that the population were all for it. Just as they did with gay marriage and adoption.

      Here is another supposedly serious political programme I like to watch but sadly can no longer keep up the enthusiam. Watch this, again it is all women and as stupid as a high school play. Weak and not credible. They look as if the are dead from the neck up and like the rest of the diversity group, do noting but remember the lines they are supposed to push down our thraots.

      And worst of all, the woman they interview in this one, is lined up as a possible leader of our country, I kid you not. The woman is a half wit.

      However, what gets me with all of this, is the ethnic make up of most of our TV is full of people who can barely speak English and you struggle to understand the message they are sending. Let alone feel as alien as it is possible to get. Ethnics are way above their representation of the country as a whole. The percentage is so high on radio and TV you would believe you are in an Asian or African country. Most of them obvious stooges telling us what we should be doing as the propaganda they spit at us is outrageous.


  7. avatar
    Lucy Clements

    My experience of working in the media is that it’s a very nepotistic industry, filled with mates giving jobs to mates and people that are like them. It’s tricky for people of colour to argue for stories reflecting their lives to be commissioned a group of people who all grew up in a middle class white culture. This is reflected by the output. It’s sad that we need quotas, it’s no-ones first choice, but in order to get a balanced coverage, I believe it is needed.

    • avatar
      Gavin Crowley

      Quotas for people just like me please. I’m quite odd so …. perhaps I should get the job.

    • avatar

      I’d like to be employed under a quota system as following normal processes have failed me as a hard working,skilled jobseeker with d disability/BME too.I think if you work hard and still being refused a job due to a protected characteristic I’m all in favour of quotas until basic fairness is restored for all.

  8. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    Hmmm, this is a very difficult one.

    What is an ethnic minority?

    Do two wrongs ultimately make a right?

    Would I [a non-white person] be respected if no matter how qualified I am, I get a job based on some sort of well-meaning but biased quota system?

    At what point does a particular minority become an ‘ethnic group’ and ‘deserve’ disproportionate over-representation?

    What or whom decides on the level of ‘ethnic group’ representation?

    What happens if a person belongs to 2 different ‘ethnic groups’?

    What happens if an ‘ethnic group’ is far and away over-represented in the media, should their particular quota be reduced?

    I’m not a fan of quotas but I’m not sure there is a better alternative.

    FTR, the EU is one of the worst offenders regarding poor representational diversity – for example the EU civil service has more Polish staff than UK staff DESPITE the UK being two-thirds larger than Poland!


  9. avatar
    Cãlin Rednic

    Up to what point are we going to divide everything into quotas…? Let’s change also restaurants menues so they contain an ethnic cuisine quota. Let’s impose such quotas for the tool names in the tool stores… Ridiculous ideas…? It seems that somebody sees these things otherwise… We’ll waste our lives calculating quotas just to be falsely “politicaly correct”, but profound unefficient.

  10. avatar
    Lada Crnobori

    why exactly sure there be? Aren’t people supposed to overlook race etc.? Can’t think of one reason for this.

  11. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    The quotas would be a form of discrimination. There will be qualified people who cannot get the job because the quota for their colour or ethnicity has been filled. This is not fair. Only skills and experience should put someone at the front of the queue, not colour, ethnic origin or religion.

  12. avatar
    Ingo Vonsundahl

    In times of streaming on the Internet this question is completely out of date besides being more than questionable

  13. avatar
    Hugo Oliveira

    In Portugal, the mass media is under control by major economic lobbies. Quotas? Is this realy a question? What about laws to stop the manipulation and monopoly? What about real jornalism? What about important information coming out instead of being supressed by a few genocidal minds?

  14. avatar
    DC Griffis

    Read Ivan Burrows comment. Why are the MAJOR issues only bitched about and the minor ones created only to be solved. Incompetence! This doesn’t solve economic woes, unemployment, health care, etc.

  15. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    Rubbish- Accepting that Europe was (genetically) formed both by contributions from Asia and Africa some ~40k years ago- doesn’t mean Europeans today need to accept a racial or genetic quota system- promoted by the ill informed pc lobby! It’s past or latest immigration trends is no measure to presently unsettle Europe’s ‘evolved all inclusive’ but hard won cultural balance.

    Just as well could the majority demand that the 1% (criminally rich) be restricted to a 1% representation “in all & any spheres” & be nationalized!


    http://www.coe.int/t/policy- planning/Debates/Identity_Debates/Debates%20on%20European%20identity_25_Sept_en.pdf

  16. avatar
    Helena Feio

    Of course not! Everyone should have the opportunity, I think. Quotas are a kind. Of discrimination.

  17. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    I don’t think we should have quotas , we should destroy those who teach discrimination .

  18. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Nope. Why should there be ethnic diversity in a media in a country or region, where there is no etnic diversity?

  19. avatar

    No, they would be discriminatory.

  20. avatar
    Luigi Monteferrante

    Aren’t we supposed to be a meritocracy-based capitalist society ie if you’re good, determined, talented, and you make money for the firm, you get the job.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Unfortunately there are many who are bad, lazy and uneducated who think society owes them a living and playing the “disadvantaged” card is their way of achieving this

    • avatar
      Paul X

      God help us if there ever is…..who wants to watch 24/7 EU propaganda interrupted by badly dubbed adverts for kitchen cleaner

  21. avatar
    Yordan Vasilev

    Yes! Quotas are needed for European minorities. We have news in Turkish for our minority in Bulgaria.

  22. avatar

    No its a stupid idea .You only have to look at the BBC to see what that future would bring

  23. avatar
    Dimitris Stamiris

    Have you see media speaking nice about Greece ???

    Have you see media speaking bad about Germany ????

    Have you see media not support bagern Munich and play more seconds of them ???

    Have you see media talking about real life ? No , only politics speak the way they want !!!

    Have you see media speaking about new world order and what is that means ????

    Have you see speaking about MOSANTO ???

    About sock of masses ????


  24. avatar

    I was just reviewing your recent posts and have come to the conclusion the problem here are not minorities, the problem is being a white European in Europe. I feel more discriminated here then I did when I was an immigrant on the other side of the world being a white in a mayority black city.

    A recap of the latest posts.
    Why are so many European politicians middle-aged, white men?
    Is tolerance born or learnt?
    Are ethnically diverse societies more peaceful than the alternatives?

    Why is being white a problem? I wonder if in Arab or African countries they are asking themselves these same stupid questions? Jeez, we are too Arab, I think we need to diversify and need more whites. It is so pathetic it makes me nauseas.

  25. avatar

    People are NOT minorities. Stop that nonsense. Its condescending.

    Speaking of ‘diversity’, I see the undemocratic EU Politburo has a rather appalling lack of ‘diversity’. Nothing but rich white people who are unelected and don’t pay income tax.

  26. avatar
    Gabriele Mogni

    I would say definitely yes! Positive discrimination is the only way we can revert historic negative discrimination against minorities in Europe….. afterall once you punch someone in the face it would be hypocritical to let the guy stand back up on his own, he needs a helping hand…..

    • avatar

      As a Dutch-European I am a minority in ‘Europe’, do I qualify for ‘positive’ discrimination? I’m also a member of several other minority groups so I can expect some preferential treatment?

  27. avatar

    I don’t think that we need such quotas. In my opinion the people are becoming more and more tolerant in the world of today. With those quotas we would have many cases of positive discrimination and the people would be statutory members of a minority in their working place. The person which is most qualified should get the job, not the one who fits to the quota.
    The politicians should not intervene here. I think the whole issue will regulate itself and minorities will become more and more represented in the media without any help. It just needs time.

  28. avatar
    Dobromir Panchev

    No. This would make minorities privileged. Only skills is what should be important to get a job, nothing else.

  29. avatar
    Marcos hara

    I believe that the EU has no right to pry and interfere with the media, what it is trying to do is force ethnic minorities to the national news and make the native population have less say on the news, and that will make these countries less european when the EU should be defending the european ideals.

  30. avatar
    Marcos hara

    The european media have all the rights to represent the european interests and values in their national countries when everything in europe is all the time becoming less and less european.

  31. avatar
    Marcos hara

    What makes the EU think that these minorities should be equally represented in the media as the native population? Are these minorities equally qualified and educated as the native ones? Are they equally keen on reporting the news of a country in which they were not born into? Are employers willing to lose potential workers because of some form of racial discrimination in which I or anyone else has ever experienced in Europe? Is it fair for these employers lose their freedom and right to employ who they want, and instead discriminate whites and favor minorities only?

  32. avatar
    Marcos hara

    Minorities and people of immigrant background account for almost 80% of rapes in Sweden, in this case, the natives are a minority, should there be quotas of white native men raping more people of different ethnicities in order to increase variety?

  33. avatar

    Yes absolutely.I’m in favour of the Uk instituting all quotas to increase not just ethnic diversity but ensure that disabled people like me have the same opportunities as non-disabled people have.I’ve been unemployed for over 3 years despite applying for diversity schemes and various jobs in media.The only reason I have any relevant work experience is because the companies adapted the recruitment processes to allow me to succeed.I subsequently managed to impress these TV companies during my work experience but only to find myself without a paid job,despite people promising to recommend me for jobs so I feel let down.

    I would be very happy if the UK finally implemented employment quotas into law like South Africa and other European countries have already with good results.This would show me that people with disabilities and BMEs will finally get the equal opportunity they deserve as well as address historical institutional prejudices as part of the recruitment systems as well.

    I’ve conducted a lot of research and am willing to work with anyone who is advocating for quotas in the UK asap.

  34. avatar

    Quota’s are unjust and racist.

    If you have 4 vacancies and a quarter of the population is black, while 3/4 is white. If you then reserve 1 job for a black person and 3 for white people and subsequently you get 6 white applications and 1 black applicant then the black applicant has a 100% change of getting a job while each individual white person would only have 50% change, just because they are white. Obviously this works the same the other way around with more black than white applications.

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