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The BBC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in its programming is making significant strides as it remains on track to fulfill its promise of spending £100 million on diverse and inclusive TV content by 2023/2024. This target was set by the broadcaster in 2020 following the tragic killing of George Floyd, as part of its efforts to address and combat systemic inequalities in the media and entertainment industry.
In the first progress update on the network’s Creative Diversity Commitment, the BBC announced that it had already invested £44 million in 67 diverse TV programs since 2021.
Several TV shows such as “Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star”, ‘‘Champion’’, “Then Barbara Met Alan”, “Tonight With Target”, and “Dreaming Whilst Black,” were produced by 48 different independent production companies. Encouragingly, 73 percent of these companies had diverse leadership teams, showcasing the BBC’s commitment to fostering inclusivity within the industry. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that 10 percent of these companies had never previously been commissioned by the BBC, indicating a diversification of talent and voices within the network’s programming.
To ensure transparency and accountability, the BBC has established clear criteria for its diversity spending. Programmes must meet at least two of the following criteria: diverse stories and portrayals on-screen, diverse production leadership, and diverse company leadership. The broadcaster recognizes all protected characteristics, including age, race, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, religion, pregnancy and maternity, or social class, sex, sexual orientation, and belief.
For on-screen representation, the BBC expects diverse programmes to comply with specific measures. These include landmark portrayals that have diverse storylines, topics, or central characters; incidental and integrated portrayals that include diverse representation when relevant to the story or character; and diverse on-screen talent, where the regular talent associated with the programme reflects diversity.
In terms of diverse production leadership, the BBC requires that senior decision-making roles on the production team include individuals from underrepresented groups, such as Black or minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled individuals, or those from working-class backgrounds. The broadcaster is also actively supporting diverse company leadership by seeking out production companies where at least two individuals in leadership roles are from underrepresented groups.
In addition to TV programming, the BBC has invested £4 million in supporting 90 diverse radio commissions. This commitment further demonstrates the broadcaster’s dedication to inclusivity and ensures that diverse voices are amplified across multiple platforms.
The BBC’s commitment to diversity extends beyond financial investment. By actively seeking out independent production companies with diverse leadership, the broadcaster is creating opportunities for fresh voices and perspectives within the industry. This approach not only enriches the content but also fosters a more inclusive and representative landscape.
To ensure compliance with the diversity criteria, the BBC’s commissioning teams rigorously assess each commission, supported by the BBC Creative Diversity Unit. Production companies are given opportunities to indicate their eligibility for meeting the criteria throughout the commissioning process, and information regarding diversity is captured in company leadership questionnaires, commissioning specifications, and production progress reports.
The BBC’s progress in fulfilling its diversity spending promise reflects a genuine effort to address the underrepresentation of marginalized groups in the media. By investing in diverse content, the broadcaster is actively working to amplify diverse voices and stories, ensuring a more accurate reflection of society on screen.
While the BBC’s strides in diversity are commendable, it is important to recognize that the journey toward inclusivity is ongoing, and there is still much work to be done. However, the broadcaster’s commitment to transparency and regular progress updates signifies a dedication to driving change within the industry.
As the BBC continues to invest in diverse content, it is hoped that other broadcasters and media organizations will follow suit. By creating a more inclusive and representative landscape, the industry can celebrate the rich diversity of audiences across the UK and beyond, fostering a media environment that truly reflects and resonates with all individuals.
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