The percentage of BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) directors making UK TV programmes has all but stalled according to a new report by directors’ trade body, Directors UK.
The report, Adjusting the Colour Balance: Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation among screen directors working in UK Television, analyses the proportion of TV programmes made by BAME directors across the UK’s four main television channels (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) between 2013 and 2016.

It found that just 2.22% of UK television programmes were made by BAME directors between 2013-2016. Television episodes directed by BAME directors increased by just 0.11 percentage points – from 2.2% to 2.31%. The report also found that no broadcaster made a significant improvement on diversity in the four-year period – the BBC, ITV and Channel 5 saw marginal increases, whilst Channel 4 saw a slight decline.

However, the report argues that the genres which had workplace interventions showed the biggest improvement: Continuing Drama rose by 3 percentage points, while Single Dramas rose by 3.6 percentage points.
Directors UK will now push a number of recommendations to close the diversity gap. These include broadcasters being set targets to ensure their workforce mirrors the UK population by 2020, fairer recruitment practices and unconscious bias training for those in hiring positions, Ofcom to make it mandatory for all UK broadcasters to monitor and report on diversity of all staff both freelance and permanent and for broadcasters to commit 0.25% of their commissioning spend to fund career development and industry access schemes.
Directors UK Board member Ashok Prasad said: “I am disappointed at these new results and at the lack of progress since the last report three years ago. I am concerned that there is a very low proportion of BAME directors employed by broadcasters and production companies, indicating a separation between the people who make our TV programmes and the audiences who watch them. Broadcasters and production companies need to dedicate more time, money and effort to ensure that a significant shift is made to diversify the pool of directors working in the UK to properly reflect the makeup of our society.”
Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns added: “Although disappointing overall we are glad to see signs of improvement for BAME directors in some genres. What this shows is that deliberate and collaborative interventions in partnership with broadcasters and production companies make a difference to diversity and must become more widely available. The industry can no longer pay lip-service to diversity initiatives. More needs to be done across all genres to ensure that directors from under-represented groups have access to opportunities and career development.”
Directors UK will continue to work with industry organisations as they take action to address the diversity gap.

Jon Creamer

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