UK commercial broadcaster ITV is to spend £80m ($105m) of its commissioning budget over the next three years on projects that drive change towards racial equity and disability equity.
ITV said it was reserving at least £20m for content made by Black, Asian and minority ethnic-led and disabled-led production companies, while a new £500k development fund to develop ideas has also been created.
The initiative is similar to those launched by fellow UK operators the BBC and Channel 4. It has been developed in consultation with the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity and the broadcaster said the £80m “commitment” over the next three years would “significantly” increase its annual spend on diverse content.
ITV launched its production trainee scheme last year in a bid to improve diversity and has also created a Diversity Acceleration Plan designed to speed up reform.
To qualify for the Diversity Commissioning Fund, productions must meet either the first criteria, or two of the remaining criteria:
- Diverse company ownership or leadership – senior individuals in company ownership or leadership roles (including through co-production partnerships) involved in shaping creative or operational strategy within the production company (e.g. Managing Director, Creative Director) must be Black, Asian or minority ethnic and/or disabled.
- Diverse creative leadership – at least two individuals in senior creative decision-making roles off-screen involved in shaping and making the programme (e.g. writer, producer, director) must be Black, Asian or minority ethnic and/or disabled.
- Diverse stories and portrayal on-screen – subject matter and stories are from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic and/or disabled perspective, and/or starring Black, Asian or minority ethnic or disabled actors in lead roles.
- Diverse salary spend – at least 20% of total salary spend off-screen on the production must be on Black, Asian or minority ethnic and/or disabled creatives.
ITV CEO, Carolyn McCall, said: “Today’s announcement builds on ITV’s Diversity Acceleration Plan. We want to keep up the momentum and drive more progress at ITV and across the industry, so that our audiences can see their broad range of experiences and perspectives reflected in our content.”
Ade Rawcliffe, ITV’s Group director of diversity & inclusion, added: “We want more people of colour and disabled people to be able to tell their stories and get opportunities in senior production roles. With this reserve fund, we’re working to speed up progress in a sustainable way, and play our part to change the structure of the industry.”
Marcus Ryder at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity said: “ITV dedicating programme finance for television productions that meet set criteria to positively increase diversity and inclusion is an important development. The LHC is happy to have been consulted in the process, and if implemented fully we see this as a vital policy tool in any broadcaster’s efforts to increase representation of underrepresented groups in production.”
ITV has 14.2% off-screen and 17.5% on-screen representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic creatives, and 4.5% off-screen and 9.6% on-screen representation of disabled creatives, according to the latest Diamond report (The Fifth Cut: Diamond at 5, published March 2022).