All new BBC TV shows must have at least 20% diverse talent beginning April 2021, as part of the the U.K. broadcaster’s new Creative Diversity Commitment.
The BBC will devote $124 million (£100 million) of its existing commissioning budget over the next three years to “diverse and inclusive content,” marking the “the biggest financial investment to on-air inclusion in the industry,” according to the media company. The financial component will be supported by the BBC’s new mandatory 20% diverse-talent target across all new network commissions, beginning in April 2021.
“With this commitment, the BBC is throwing open its doors more widely than ever to diverse stories and diverse storytellers. The media industry is not changing fast enough,” the BBC said in a press release. “The BBC has been committed to creative diversity and inclusion for 100 years; but we now want to go further. The measures announced today are designed to accelerate the pace of change in increasing diversity and inclusion both on and off air. And to demonstrate change is being delivered, the BBC will report on progress in its Annual Report.”
The BBC says its $124 million investment “will support our commitment to diversity and inclusion in our TV output across all genres, including children’s, education and current affairs.” The fund also supports BBC’s Diversity Code of Practice and commits them to creating content with at least two out of these three components: 1) Diverse stories and portrayal on-screen, 2) Diverse production teams and talent, and 3) Diverse-led production companies
“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,” BBC director-general Tony Hall said. “It’s made us question ourselves about 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.”
June Sarpong, BBC’s director of creative diversity, 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 of 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 with meaningful action.”
According to the BBC, its Creative Diversity investment will also include these commitments:
*We will run regular meet and greets across the country, to enable talent from traditionally under-represented minority groups to engage with BBC staff and external suppliers who shape the organisation’s creative output
*We are working towards developing a comprehensive diverse digital database for the industry, and an accelerator program for on screen and off screen diverse talent
*We will work with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative on the ‘Belonging Blueprint’, a project aimed at establishing new practices to create wider access to entertainment industry jobs for traditionally marginalised individuals
*We will continue to prioritise investing and developing diverse leaders at the BBC. The newly appointed Senior Leadership Advisors, two per leadership group, act as senior executives and bring fresh perspectives to each leadership board. They will receive development and training over the next year while they are in post
*The Creative Diversity Unit, led by June Sarpong, Director of Creative Diversity, will publish a new strategy over the summer. The strategy will support the Belonging Blueprint, and the inclusion toolkit, a set of guidance and tools to help the BBC’s creative staff and industry partners ensure diversity and inclusion is at the heart of production
*Later this year the BBC will also publish a detailed Diversity Commissioning Code of Practice report at the same time as the Annual Report and Accounts