BBC spends £750,000 coaching ethnic minority staff despite axing up to 1,800 jobs to save money
The BBC has sparked controversy by spending £750,000 of licence fee cash on coaching ethnic minority staff into top jobs.
Corporation chiefs have launched a new drive to help minority employees get senior posts after it failed to hit its own diversity targets.
But the new mentoring scheme has been condemned as "politically correct" positive discrimination which will create resentment amongst staff.
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The new scheme has been condemned as 'politically correct' positive discrimination which will create resentment amongst staff
They are also bemused how the corporation can afford to spend £750,000 on the three year scheme when it is axing up to 1,800 jobs.
BBC plans will see half of the 30 places a year on the new scheme ring-fenced for staff from ethnic backgrounds. A further six each year will be handed to disabled applicants, with nine places remaining annually open to people from any background.
Among the mentors helping those on the scheme will be the BBC's own director general Mark Thompson and members of the executive board.
The corporation is branding the moves as 'positive action' rather than positive discrimination, which it says is illegal.
The mentoring will include five and a half days development spread over the year, plus monthly coaching sessions with bosses.
Yesterday politicians criticised the plans saying the BBC should promote all staff on the basis of ability not colour.
Conservative Philip Davies, who sits on the culture, media and sport select committee, said: "Most licence fee payers will be appalled to find that the BBC is spending three quarters of a million pounds on some politically correct policy.
"It seems to me that they are admitting that the BBC is racist in their recruitment. If they are not being racist in their recruitment then there is no need to have this scheme."
He added: "Positive action is just the new word for positive discrimination. This sort of thing does so much damage and builds up resentment. People should just be selected on merit."
The moves are being branded the BBC's biggest ever push to increase the diversity of its workforce.
It is said the scheme will nurture people from ethnic minorities who have the potential to take on senior roles. Director of BBC People Steve Kelly told in-house magazine Ariel: "Because the BBC now believes that change is not going to happen any other way, it has made the conscious decision to take positive action."
This comes after corporation bosses have been stung by claims it is more "hideously white" than ever.
It has fewer bosses from ethnic minorities than four years ago, when then-director general Greg Dyke used the damning phrase to describe its workforce.
In 2003, 4.4 per cent of BBC managers were from minority backgrounds.
But the latest figure is down to 4.3 per cent - well short of the 7 per cent target set for 2008.
At the beginning of the month, one of its performers, Lenny Henry also lambasted the BBC and other broadcasters for not employing enough black staff.
He claimed that racism still exists in TV and called on broadcasters to take "affirmative action" to remedy the situation.
This week another of the BBC's on screen staff also hit out at the situation.
Correspondent Barnie Choudhury said he wanted the culture ministry to launch an independent investigation similar to the McPherson inquiry into the police on the issue.
He claimed the BBC was "institutionally insensitive" on allowing stereotypes on air and claimed he was sick of defending the industry to ethnic minorities.
NWN: Seems like the old TV wanting even more black faces on our screens. Well, they could have CRIMEWATCH on twice a week then instead of the once .