A senior Asian figure at the BBC claimed last night there are too many ethnic minority faces on TV.
Dr Samir Shah, a non- executive director, accused the corporation and others of rampant tokenism in their programming.
He claimed a 'tick-box approach' to showing non-whites had left minority viewers feeling embarrassed and irritated.
The former head of current affairs at the BBC said the politically correct antics of broadcasters were creating an ' inauthentic representation of who we are'.
He blamed a 'metropolitan, largely liberal, white, middle-class elite' for ensuring ethnic minority presence on-screen 'regardless of editorial imperatives'.
His comments came on the day Equalities Minister Harriet Harman announced plans to make it legal for a company to promote a black or female candidate over an equally-qualified white man.
Dr Shah, who also runs his own production company, said one of the 'odder and plain daft outcomes' of equal opportunities was over-compensation.
Genuine problems of discrimination against minorities were not addressed by such tokenism.
Real positions of power were still filled by a 'narrow cultural circle' of those drawn from the same elite as they always were, he said.
'I don't know if there is any systematic data on this but I think we can all agree that there is no shortage of black and Asian reporters and presenters around these days - especially on news programmes,' said Dr Shah.
'I suspect there is a goodly presence of them even in areas where Black and Asian faces are pretty thin on the ground.
'Let's not forget the UK is still 90 per cent white - not everyone lives in London or the West Midlands.'
He cited research by Trevor Phillips, who heads the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which suggested that even ethnic minorities are slightly embarrassed by the 'plethora of brown faces they see on the screen'.
Dr Shah, who took up his latest BBC role in January last year, said TV drama was part of the problem.
'I don't think that such over-representation is a brilliant idea,' he added.
'And it's happening not just in factual departments. I hear of drama departments that are considering ensuring a smattering of non-white faces almost regardless of the editorial imperatives.
Trust me, that's not the answer. Because it's just not real.'
He said the 'power- elite' in TV also excluded other groups such as 'stroppy Northerners' from working class backgrounds, middle England conservatives and the disabled.
Giving a Royal Television Society speech last night, Dr Shah said many from ethnic minorities question whether programmes reflect their life experiences or world view.
The executive said many felt portrayals of non-white characters were interchangeable and inauthentic, annoying the very people they were trying to appease.
The former head of BBC politics programming singled out the portrayal of the Ferreira family in EastEnders, who were axed from the show in 2005, as an example of such characters.
His comments follow Lenny Henry's attack earlier this year on the 'Alf Garnett' generation of programme-makers and claims that racism still exists in TV.
Henry attacked the BBC and ITV for not employing enough black staff behind the screen as well as on it.
Earlier this month Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow said: 'Although we've become much more multicultural on air, we're still fairly monocultural behind the screen.'
In 2001, Greg Dyke famously described the BBC workforce as 'hideously white'.
In his speech Dr Shah called for every broadcaster to make sure their team of executives with real power come from different backgrounds within five years.
Conservative MP Philip Davies, who sits on the culture, media and sport select committee, backed Dr Shah's comments.
He said: 'The BBC is absolutely riddled with a politically-correct culture. It does not do anyone any favours in the long run.'
He added: 'Putting a token ethnic minority person into something just for the sake of it is political correctness which I don't support. True equality means it should be irrelevant what colour your are.'
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