Insights into the UK ethnic and multicultural media landscape

UK ethnic and multicultural media landscape

Insights into the UK ethnic and multicultural media landscape

Cultural groups and migrants usually turn to their own media for information and entertainment when they are in foreign countries.

Ethnic groups consumption of their own specialist media is high as it offers;

  • Cultural familiarity – whereby ethnic minority people could see their culture reflected on screen and in the press
  • Access to news and entertainment in mother tongue languages for non-English speakers
  • Coverage of news from ‘home’
  • An ‘ethnic’ perspective on the UK news
  • Discussion and coverage of issues relevant to particular ethnic minority communities

On the other hand Consumption of mainstream media is low due to lack of relevant programming coupled with language barriers facing any new group or community. (e.g. Asian, Polish, Chinese, Arab..etc).

The other point of contention is that representation of ethnic people in mainstream media is low especially and even when they appear they are given stereo typical roles or secondary roles (they hardly appear in a primary or central role).

Ethnic communities in the UK pay an estimated £140 million Pounds in license fees to the BBC, and feel short changed as they do not get value for the money they are forced to pay. Ethnic communities feel that the BBC are not listening to them and hence there are a stronger currents and support for empowering the public and especially the ethnic communities and enable them to use their money to subscribe to their own channels of choice. The lack of adequate programming has led to the explosion of the ethnic television phenomenon.

  • A recent Ofcom report into the ethnic communities found that
  • in terms of usage and general competence, ethnic minority groups have higher levels of media literacy compared to UK as a whole
  • They are also are more likely to own the various media platforms than UK adults as a whole and that satellite penetration is higher than the UK average.
  • The ethnic communities are slightly more interested in the digital features of the media platforms than UK adults overall,
  • and the adoption of  newer technologies are more prevalent in the homes of younger adults
  • Access to media devices is generally higher overall amongst adults from minority ethnic groups than for UK adults as a whole  according to research conducted by Ofcom in 2006

The Media Scene:

A recent study by Media Reach Advertising, (Ethnic Advertising and Communications Agency) pointed to the following findings;



  • There are at least 180 Ethnic titles at present, and the numbers continue to rise with the arrivals of the Eastern European migrants
  • Language titles more popular with the 1st and 2nd generation
  • Regional titles are adapting to the changing demography with introductions of language pages
  • 59% of people from ethnic groups use newspapers to keep up with national news, as opposed to 75% of UK adults



  • Penetration of digital radio services is higher among minority ethnic groups (54%) than the UK population overall (44%)
  • Usage of digital radio is more prevalent amongst Middle Eastern, Polish, Black Africans and Black Caribbean target groups
  • Dedicated radio stations in areas of high propensity of ethnic minority groups (Offering regional strength)
  • Most Asian populated cities have their own radio stations (personal medium for locals)
  • Radio is an important and indispensable source of news rivalling press and TV (ITC research 2002)

Due to the nature of Asian businesses (retail, chemists, food), exposure to radio during the day is very high



  • There is higher ownership of digital TV among minority ethnic groups (70%) than for the overall population (62%)
  • Very strong viewing patterns amongst (Asians, Arabs, Chinese and Eastern Europeans)
  • Television has seen by far the fastest growth in the past 6 years
  • 38 channels have been introduced over the last 2 years
  • Channels targeting specific genres and communities
  • Coverage of Cricket Indian Summer, Mela and specialist programmes brought C4 new and diverse audience
  • The newer channels have a young and vibrant image catering to the taste of the young British Asians (Music, Youth, Films, Sports)
  • Home access to the Internet is higher among minority ethnic groups (64%) than the UK population overall (54%)



Minority ethnic groups use the Internet more frequently (14.5 hours per week compared to 9.9 for the overall UK population)

  • There are several web sites targeting individual communities E.g. Bollywood film sites, news sites, leisure sites, matrimonial sites, etc
  • Internet advertising is good value for money and useful for targeting specific audiences

Broadband take-up stand at 61% of those with Internet access at home, and 39% of all adults from minority ethnic groups



  • Asians are five times more likely to go to the cinema than white mainstream audiences
  • Asian and Chinese cinemas have seen tremendous revival with more youth audiences
  • The modern Asian films have an equally glossy image  and good story lines as mainstream
  • Advertising with Asian cinemas is a growing phenomenon, thus offering the advertiser excellent exposure
  • In 2003 Bollywood films accounted for 5 of the Top 10 foreign language films
  • The UK is the biggest market for Asian films outside India; Bollywood films regularly make the Top 10 at the weekly UK box-office
  • Asians are big cinema consumers, 83% of Asians  go to the cinema, 42% of them go once a month or more. They are more likely to go with groups of friends or family

Advertising with blockbusters can be combined with BLT activity, giving the client access at a grass root level


Targeted Outdoor

  • Generically provide immense value for branding
  • Targeting the ethnic community requires detailed knowledge of the ethnic geographical distribution
  • Ethnic language posters are extremely striking and highly memorable
  • Ethnic Minority Communities relate and react more positively to posters addressing them in their language
  • Increase in use of targeted poster sites in communications
  • The use of ambient sites such as lamp posts & prime sites

Utilise hoarding and banners during events and melas


Events & Festivals

  • Festivals like Diwali (Indian festival of lights), Ramadan  (Muslim month of fasting), Eid (Muslim festival following Ramadan), Baisakhi (Indian harvest festival),Notting Hill Carnival are ideal occasions for celebrations and interaction
  • Events are very popular with the ethnic communities (ideal social opportunity)
  • Events provide the perfect environment to personally speak to the ethnic consumer
  • Over the years, sizes of ethnic events have grown, and many current events see a turnaround of more than 100,000 people
  • Though local, large ethnic events (Melas) attract visitors from nearby cities


Saad Saraf


Media Reach Advertising

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