Report shows TV industry diversity still has some way to go

The Creative Diversity Network (CDN) has published the third report from its “Diamond” diversity monitoring and reporting project.

The data gathered for the report represent more than 600,000 contributions by individuals working on and off-screen on qualifying television content produced for the five main Diamond broadcasters (BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5/ViacomCBS and Sky) and broadcast between 1 August 2018 and 31 July 2019.

Diamond: The Third Cut reveals that while some progress has been made – women are now represented in line with the overall working population both on and off-screen and BAME on-screen representation is higher when compared to the UK national population – these same two groups remain absent from many senior creative roles, BAME individuals are under-represented in off-screen roles more generally, and the over 50s are also largely under-represented across the industry.

The industry as a whole shows a lack of employment of disabled people.  The overall UK national figure for working age disabled people is 17%; Diamond: The Third Cut reveals that disabled people are only making 5.2% of contributions off-screen and 7.8% on-screen – figures which have flatlined over the past three reports.

For the first time, Diamond: The Third Cut includes a breakdown across the different diversity characteristics by broadcaster, along with analysis based around genre, role type, peak vs non-peak hours and seniority, allowing CDN to provide the most comprehensive and statistically accurate picture of diversity in across the UK’s television landscape.

Collectively, CDN and its members are already using the Diamond data to tackle the under-representation of disabled people working in the industry through the Doubling Disability project, which aims to double the number of people working in off-screen production roles. CDN will also be using the data to undertake a more in-depth analysis of how Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups are represented across the industry.

Deborah Williams, CDN Executive Director said: “Diamond: The Third Cut provides a comprehensive and robust insight into diversity in the UK television industry. The 30,000 individual submissions this year provide invaluable information which broadcasters and producers are using to set, adjust and monitor their own diversity initiatives. While this third report does present examples of good progress, there are many areas where more needs to be done.  The opportunity to share broadcaster comparisons for the first time makes it clear that many of the trends are due to systemic structural barriers and processes long embedded in the industry as a whole. That is why collective, sustained and large-scale action is required if we want to make significant change.”


Overall off-screen contributions
Disabled people make just 5.2% of contributions off-screen, far lower than the national workforce estimate (17%).

Over-50s make 20.6% of off-screen contributions, compared to the national workforce estimate of 31%.

Those identifying as transgender make just 0.2% of off-screen contributions, whereas estimates indicate they represent 0.8% of the population.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups are slightly under-represented in this year’s figures, making 12.3% of contributions compared to 13% national workforce estimate.

Overall on-screen contributions
Those who identify as female, transgender, BAME, and lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) are all represented on-screen in line with (or exceeding) national population estimates.

Disabled people and over-50s are both still under-represented on-screen, making 7.8% and 24.6% of contributions respectively.

Peak vs non-peak
Individuals who are female, BAME or disabled are all making significantly fewer on-screen contributions in peak programmes compared to off-peak programmes

Broadcaster comparison

The percentage of those who are BAME and working off-screen on BBC programmes is comparatively low (9.6%); however, on-screen contributions by BAME (26.6%), female (55.8%) and disabled (9.4%) people are comparatively higher than other broadcasters.

Although Channel 4 has very few contributions by over-50s in off-screen production roles (11.9%), representation in roles off-screen by those who are female (55.9%), BAME (16.2%) and LGB (16.1%) are higher compared to some other broadcasters.

ITV has significantly higher numbers of contributions by transgender people in their programmes on-screen (2.4%), compared to other broadcasters and national population estimates (0.8). However, ITV has comparatively low on-screen representation by those who are over 50 (20.9%) and disabled people (4.6%).

Both on and off-screen, Sky has comparatively high representation by those who are over 50 (37.8% on-screen, 28% off-screen). However, off-screen contributions by disabled people are comparatively low (2.8%)

Channel 5 has comparatively low levels of contributions by women working both on (44.7%) and off-screen (46%) on their commissioned programmes; but on-screen, Channel 5 has a very high number of LGB people making programme contributions (18.1%).

Representation of disabled people is very low across every genre, both on and off-screen, with particularly low proportions of on-screen contributions in drama (3.5%) and comedy (4.3%) programmes.

Off screen, disabled people are making fewer than 5% of contributions in children’s (4.9%), comedy (4.5%), drama (4.7%), entertainment (4.8%) and factual (4%) programmes, despite accounting for 17% of the working-age population.

BAME representation is much higher on-screen compared to off-screen across all genres except current affairs, where off-screen contributions (23.4%) slightly exceed on-screen (22.6%). This disparity is particularly noticeable for drama programmes, where on-screen BAME contributions (26.4%) are more than three times higher than off-screen (8.6%).

In children’s and comedy programmes, there are almost twice as many on-screen contributions made by BAME groups (30.3% and 24.9% respectively) compared to off-screen (10.6% and 11.3%);

Role types and seniority
Women, transgender, BAME and disabled people are less well represented more generally in senior roles compared to non-senior roles.

Women in senior roles are more likely to be Heads of Production, (85.8%), commissioning editor (64.6%) and producer (60.1%), and far less likely to be directors (26.2%) or writers (38.1%).

BAME individuals are under-represented in many key senior roles such as series producer (4.4%), head of production (8.3%), director (8.6%) and writer (9.1%).

Gary Davey, CEO, Sky Studios said: “We will only be able to achieve real change armed with comprehensive and reliable data and that is exactly what Diamond is now delivering.  The third report makes the information even more powerful with the addition of analysis across production roles and across genres.  I am a big fan of Diamond.  For the first time we can force the pace of change, based on evidence.” 

Dame Carolyn McCall, CEO, ITV said: “Our commissioning and production teams are now using Diamond data to help drive improvements in representation both on and off screen and to track progress against our diversity targets. The Third Cut is providing diversity data in greater detail than before – for instance by role type – which will help us to improve representation in key creative roles, like writers and directors.

John McVay, CEO, Pact said: “Diamond continues to provide a solid framework to inform our work to make the industry inclusive both on and off screen. With the third cut, for the first time we can see a much more detailed picture which includes data on role types and genres. This is a significant step forward in helping the sector to focus its efforts and investment.”

Jill Offman, CDN Chair and Managing Director, Viacom International Studios UK, ViacomCBS said: “Diamond’s data sets our industry apart from any other, raising vital questions and providing essential insights for all the main UK broadcasters to act upon.  30,000 responses are informing our third year of data providing us with a uniquely large and robust data set on diversity. The challenge for us now is to collectively balance maintaining the momentum we have generated whilst directing our focus towards areas where we are lacking.”

Alex Mahon, CEO, Channel 4, said: “Diamond is already playing a vital role revealing insights into the diverse make-up of the broadcast industry and helping inform broadcasters and programme makers where we need to focus energies to improve representation both on and off screen.”

Tony Hall, BBC Director General said: “Diamond offers a vital health check for the TV industry and we will continue to work with the CDN and our broadcasting partners to learn from the results and improve what we do.”

Staff Reporter

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.