ViacomCBS unveils ‘no diversity, no commission’ policy for UK suppliers

Maria Kyriacou

ViacomCBS Networks UK has revealed a raft of new measures designed to improve representation both on and off-screen, including the introduction of a ‘no diversity, no commission’ content policy.

The “reinvigorated inclusion strategy” aims to embed diversity across the company and includes new initiatives including a new role within the commissioning team responsible for identifying and developing diverse talent on- and off-screen, at all levels.

The new position will help launch and run a ‘New Faces, New Voices’ diverse contributors search in order to boost on-screen representation.

The company’s ‘no diversity, no commission’ policy will also be introduced for all programme suppliers, while the CDN’s Diamond diversity data monitoring will now take place across all ViacomCBS UK pay TV brands, in addition to Channel 5.

For too long, the TV industry has been a relative closed shop and if we are to be of continued relevance to the audiences that we serve, then this must change

Maria Kyriacou

Other measures include the creation of a new ‘promotion opportunity project’, which will identify and support the promotion of BAME talent in the UK production sector. The aim is to nurture diverse off-screen talent and help mid-level freelancers progress their careers, with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills on a primetime commission.

An ‘inclusion board’ is also being introduced to provide quarterly reports on performance; a new BAME talent sponsorship program will pair senior leaders with diverse talent to fuel career advancement; and the comapny has committed to recruit diverse candidate pools for every open vacancy.

It has also committed to voluntarily publishing its ethnicity pay gap report in the UK on an annual basis, as part of global plans that have seen the US-based company set up three international task forces to develop initiatives to address racial equity in every area of its business.

Maria Kyriacou, president of ViacomCBS Networks UK & Australia, said: “Society is now at an inflection point on the issue of systemic racism and as individuals, as a company, we all have a part to play in righting centuries of wrongs. For too long ,the TV industry has been a relative closed shop and if we are to be of continued relevance to the audiences that we serve, then this must change.

“While this raft of new measures is intended to accelerate change, it is by no means a lone stake in the ground. Instead it is a re-emphasis of a strategy that will continue to evolve in the coming weeks, months and years ahead.”|

Ben Frow, director of programmes at ViacomCBS Networks UK, added: “It is important that we work closely with our production company partners to ensure that they help us to achieve our ambition of being truly reflective of Britain today, both on- and off-screen.”

Frow described the ‘promotion opportunity project’ and ‘new faces, new voices’ schemes as “two practical actions that will contribute to change in front of and behind the camera, building on our BAME indies initiative which remains a continuing area of focus.”

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