Big hitters back MIPCOM Diversity Summit

Major industry figures are backing a series of talks and panel sessions on diversity in international television that will comprise a new Diversity Summit at MIPCOM.

Michael-ArmstrongThe event is being organised by Diversity TV, a new MIP-born group whose board includes Scorpion Television managing director David Cornwall, senior VP of format production at All3Media International Nick Smith, Little Black Book CEO Bunmi Akintonwa and MIPCOM’s Liliane Da Cruz.

Each of these execs will present talks and debates at the Diversity Summit on Tuesday, October 18, with the likes of EbonyLife TV CEO Mo Abudu; executive VP and general manager, international brand development, Viacom International Media Networks Michael Armstrong (pictured); Sony Pictures Television president, international distribution Keith Le Goy; and History senior VP of programming Paul Cabana also speaking.

Topics will focus on strategies that encourage TV and entertainment companies to push diversity, with a top-line focus on exporting diversity-focused content to western markets.

A+E Networks is the headline sponsor, with Sonar Entertainment and African content-focused SVOD service Afrostream among the additional sponsors.

“A+E Networks has a legacy in celebrating different; different races, religions, cultures and ethnicities,” said Sean Cohan, president of international and digital media for A+E. “We look to reflect the fabric that is our world across our company and onscreen, no matter which screen someone may be watching.

“As a company we are passionate about the issues and topics surrounding diversity and endeavour every day to move this needle forward. We felt it was critical to be a premium sponsor to both ensure the success of the Summit and to strongly demonstrate our commitment to this important initiative.”

Afrostream CEO Tonjé Bakang said his firm’s experiences as “the only SVOD platform in Europe highlighting the multiplicity of voices and stories found in Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and in Europe” would “help foster the exchange of ideas and approaches, and, serve as a bridge to those in the industry actively seeking to tackle issues of diversity and inclusion”.

Sonar’s president of global distribution and coproductions, David Ellender, said: “In recent years it has been exciting to see diverse characters playing leading, nuanced roles that defy stereotypes, and it’s clear that audiences are receptive, from ratings successes like Empire and Scandal, to critically acclaimed programmes like Master of None and Transparent.”

“There is always room for improvement, particularly in making sure that there is equal representation in roles behind the camera.”