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INDUSTRY / MARKET UK

The BBC announces a £100 million investment to increase diversity on TV

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- The British pubcaster has committed to producing “diverse and inclusive content” over a three-year period

The BBC announces a £100 million investment to increase diversity on TV
BBC director-general Tony Hall (© BBC)

The BBC has announced a £100 million investment to increase diversity on TV. The pubcaster’s effort, planned over a three-year period (2021-2024) and named The BBC’s Creative Diversity Commitment, will guarantee the production of “diverse and inclusive content”. It has been defined as “the first in a new series of bold steps to transform its programming and better represent the public it serves.”

In detail, the investment will be supported by a new, mandatory 20% diverse-talent target in all new network commissions, which will come into force from April 2021. Through this endeavour, the BBC argues that it will “open its doors more widely than ever to diverse stories and diverse storytellers”, and said measure will “accelerate the pace of change in increasing diversity and inclusion both on and off air”. Relevant progress will be highlighted in the pubcaster’s annual report.

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The initiative will involve all TV genres, including children’s productions, education and current affairs. Furthermore, it will be in line with the broadcaster’s diversity code of practice and will commit the company to creating content that complies with at least two of the established top priorities – namely, diverse stories and portrayal on-screen, diverse production teams and talent, and diverse-led production companies.

Speaking about the provision, the BBC’s director-general, Tony Hall, said: “The senseless killing of George Floyd – and what it tells us about the stain of systemic racism – has had a profound impact on all of us. It’s made us question ourselves and ask what more we can do to help tackle racism, and drive inclusion within our organisation and in society as a whole. This is our response: it’s going to drive change in what we make and who makes it. It’s a big leap forward – and we’ll have more to announce in the coming weeks.” Meanwhile, director of Creative Diversity June Sarpong added: “I came to the BBC as an outsider. Before joining, I had an idea of this being an organisation that did not want to change. What I found was something different: an organisation that had ambitious goals for diversity and inclusion, but didn’t know how to reach them. This commitment will help to drive real change that will be felt by all audiences. It will also create a strong framework to help diverse storytellers succeed at all levels of the industry. As director of Creative Diversity, I’m pleased that we’re announcing this fund as the first in a series of bold steps that will help make the BBC an instrument of real change. As a black woman, I feel and share in the pain that so many are feeling worldwide. It makes it all the more important that we show up now not just with words, but also with meaningful action.”

The BBC’s Creative Diversity Commitment will be further enhanced by regular meet-and-greets across the country (to enable talent from traditionally under-represented minorities to engage with staff and external suppliers who shape the organisation’s creative output), the development of a comprehensive and diverse digital database for the industry, the implementation of an accelerator programme for on-screen and off-screen diverse talent, and a collaboration with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative on the “Belonging Blueprint” (a project aimed at establishing new practices to allow wider access to entertainment-industry jobs for traditionally marginalised individuals), among other initiatives.

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