CBS Pledges to Make ‘At Least’ Half of Reality Show Contestants Nonwhite, Starting Next Season

Move comes as network has been criticized for its lack of diversity on reality series like “Survivor”

Survivor Winners at War Tony Vlachos

CBS said Monday that, going forward, all of its unscripted series will have at least 50% of its casts made up of those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). This will begin with the 2021-22 TV season.

CBS will also allocate at least a quarter of its annual unscripted development budget to projects created or co-created by BIPOC producers, also starting in the 2021-2022 season.

“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” George Cheeks, CBS Entertainment’s president and CEO, said. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our Network.”

The announcements come as CBS’ reality series, most notably “Survivor,” have been criticized for its lack of diversity.

In July, CBS said it would commit 25% of its script development budget to projects created or co-created by BIPOC beginning with the 2021-22 development cycle. Additionally, CBS will mandate that its writers’ rooms reach a minimum of 40% BIPOC representation by the 2021-22 season. That threshold will increase to 50% by the 2022-23 season. Six series this coming season are expected to reach that minimum threshold.

CBS Studios also entered into a production partnership with the NAACP to elevate diverse voices. That effort will be led by Sheila Ducksworth.


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