The BBC has ring-fenced £100m over the next three years for “diverse and inclusive content.” The company is setting itself diversity criteria across production teams, talent and content. The Corporation has also set a target of 20% of off-screen talent to come from underrepresented backgrounds.
There will also be three “tests” for diversity in the BBC’s TV output, with programmes needing to meet two of them to qualify. Diverse stories and portrayal on-screen, diverse production teams and talent, and diverse-led production companies.
The news followed two major calls for change from within the industry. Three thousand and five hundred British film and TV professionals signed an open letter demanding an end to systematic racism. In addition, 700 Black and ethnic minority TV workers wrote to UK networks and streaming services. Their letter calling for practical action, including boosting numbers of BAME commissioners and producers on shows.
The letter details a plethora of issues experienced by ethnic minorities working in the TV industry. This includes “casual (and sometimes blatant) racism.” Black women being labelled as “angry” while their white counterparts are described as “passionate.” It said unacceptable behaviour is “brushed under a rug” because of TV’s freelance model.
The letter was addressed to culture secretary Oliver Dowden. Ofcom, Pact, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV, Sky, UKTV, Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.
The BBC will report on its progress in its annual report. The announcement follows widespread Black Lives Matter protests, after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in the US.