The BBC in the UK has said it will “prioritise” spending of £100m ($125m) of its existing commissioning budget over the next three years on “diverse and inclusive content” and outlined plans for a new mandatory 20% diverse-talent target in all new network commissions.
The BBC’s Creative Diversity Commitment, which it has claimed is the biggest financial investment to on-air inclusion in the UK industry, will take effect from 2021 and is designed to improve diversity and inclusion both on and off air.
The mandatory diverse-talent target will be in place for all new network commissions from April 2021, with the BBC set to outline progress via its Annual Report.
The broadcaster said: “These steps are all part of the ambitious journey we are on to transform the BBC inside and out and make a real difference to the industry and to society at a critical time.
As part of the plan, the broadcaster has committed to create content with at least two of the following three priorities: diverse stories and portrayal on-screen; diverse production teams and talent; and/or diverse-led production companies.
BBC chief 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 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, 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.”
Charlotte Moore, director of content, said: “When I met Steve McQueen last year during the making of [drama] Small Axe, he challenged me and the BBC to set meaningful targets and take proper action. He was right. Today’s announcement represents a truly transformational commitment to both on and off screen representation. Concrete, tangible action is the only way we can bring about real sustainable change.”
The BBC added that further plans would be announced in other production areas in the coming weeks.