The BBC has published its Diversity Commissioning Code of Practice Progress Report, revealing that it invested a total of £128.5m into TV & Radio content in the first two years of its Creative Diversity Commitment, exceeding the original commitment of £112m into on-screen and on-air diversity and inclusion.
The report says that the BBC has broadcast TV programmes across the year reflecting its audiences, nurturing diverse voices and working with diverse casts and crews, citing drama My Name Is Leon (pictured), comedy Avoidance and CBeebies’ Ranger Hamza’s Eco Quest, to Lenny’s One Love, Una Marson: Caribbean Voices, BBC Scotland’s The Wedding and the Women’s Euros.
The three year commitment (from 2021/22 – 2023/24) to invest a minimum of £112m – £100m for TV and £12m for Radio – has focused efforts to ensure diversity is integrated into the way the BBC commissions programmes across all genres, both on and off screen and air.
In the second year of the commitment, the BBC invested £61m in supporting a total of 118 TV programmes. This follows a *£59m investment in the first year across *92 programmes. In addition, £8.5m has been invested in supporting nearly 290 diverse Radio commissions over the past two years.
The BBC is committed to going further in 2023/24, with programmes qualifying for the financial investment if they meet at least two of the following three criteria:
Diverse stories and portrayals
Diverse production leadership
Diverse company leadership
The criteria are discussed at the point of the programme’s commission and then measured at transmission, ensuring the BBC is looking for, developing and choosing programmes that represent all audiences across the UK and accelerate the pace of change in increasing diversity and inclusion across the industry.
Chinny Okolidoh, BBC Director of Diversity & Inclusion, says: “I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made through our Creative Diversity commitment which is making a real difference in improving diversity off-screen and ensuring what audiences experience on-screen and on-air is more diverse, inclusive and authentic. There is still more to do across the whole industry and we’re working with other broadcasters and streamers to make a positive difference. We’ve always said the £112m investment was a starting point. Diversity and inclusion is an absolute priority for the BBC and we’re fully committed to reflecting our audiences and improving representation, inclusion and accessibility even further across our content.”
In 2022/23 the BBC has made a series of steps to transform the BBC’s programming and better represent the public it serves, including a focus on improving disability representation by launching new commitments to improving access for disabled people on and off screen. The BBC co-founded the TV Access Project (TAP) in August 2022, alongside 10 of the country’s largest broadcasters and streamers to ensure access provision for disabled talent across the TV industry.
The BBC’s new ‘Access First Titles’ scheme has seen The One Show, Morning Live and Silent Witness working with the BBC Creative Diversity team and Access Co-ordinators to bring disabled talent onto their productions.
And the BBC Elevate scheme has been progressing the careers of mid-level deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent talent and supported 22 placements within production companies this year, on shows including Survivor, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Michael McIntyre’s Big Show and Sports Personality of the Year.
In the last year BBC Writersroom has supported more than 100 writers, with 33% from ethnically diverse backgrounds, half are women and 15% have a disability.
In addition, the Diverse Talent Development Fund – which ring-fences £2m a year to support companies to develop diverse on and off-screen talent – has supported a total of 153 programmes in 2022/23 and there are plans to extend the fund to cover Sport.
The BBC’s Small Indie Fund also ring-fences £1m per year to support small production companies with a financial investment and a Commissioner as a mentor. This year, 52% of the companies supported across drama, comedy, entertainment, factual, daytime and children’s programming had diverse leadership, up from 42% in 2021/22. And in Radio, a new annual £250k Indie Development Fund is supporting diverse independent production companies to be commissioned by the BBC.
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