UK broadcasters ditch acronym for minorities as not ‘nuanced’ enough

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Four major British broadcasters have agreed to avoid using the acronym BAME, which means “black, Asian and minority ethnic”, following the recent recommendation to use “more nuanced” terms for specific ethnic groups.

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 announced on Tuesday that they will now avoid using the term BAME in their news content and corporate communications.

“The move towards specificity, and away from a catch-all term, paves the way for greater acknowledgement of the unique experience of people from different ethnic backgrounds and offers insight into the issues facing specific groups,” reads the broadcasters’ rare joint press statement.

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The report, conducted by Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity (LHC), says that intensifying use of the collective term BAME in 2020 coincided with Black Lives Matter movement and Covid pandemic, which exposed “ethnically-marked health and other inequalities”.

“Interestingly, both these developments have required the need for a more nuanced and culturally astute understanding of specific ethnic demographic groups,” reads the report. It also notes that the “catch-all term” now has “specific negative connotations” and therefore should be used with “particular care”. The advice for the broadcasters was to choose more specific ethnicity-describing definitions and to limit the use of the acronym by reported speech. In those cases where a wider term is needed, they advised using “Black, Asian and minority ethnic”.

The authors of the review welcomed the announcement by the four broadcast outlets, saying that they are “very happy that British broadcasters are taking the issue of racial language seriously”.

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