UK BAME TV workers call for change
Anti-racism protestors in London (photo: Nathaniel Plevyak)
A task force representing UK television’s BAME members is sending a letter detailing five proposals to tackle discrimination in the industry to the country’s biggest broadcasters as well as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.
As well as the digital trio and the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV, Sky and UKTV, the letter from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) TV Task Force is also addressed to the UK’s culture secretary Oliver Dowden, UK producers’ trade body Pact and media regulator Ofcom.
“For many years we have stayed silent, due to fear of being blacklisted. But in the current climate we feel emboldened to say something and this time we want to be heard,” the letter reads.
It highlights numerous examples of cultural problems within the UK television industry, both on screen and off, and refers to casual and overt racism being “brushed under a rug,” resulting in BAME people, and BAME women in particular, changing careers.
This is hindering efforts to create a diverse pipeline in the upper levels of the industry, the letter states, with “only 9% of people in senior positions being BAME indicating a lack of progression.”
“There have been attempts made with entry level schemes to address diversity – Creative Access, the Pact Indie Diversity Scheme, Mama Youth etc. – but what’s the point if many of them end up leaving the industry?,” the letter says.
The proposals the BAME TV Task Force set out include increasing the number of BAME commissioners to 25% across genres and setting aside specific budgets for new series from BAME-led indies and development teams.
A formalised recruitment process – with a clear, externally accessible place for channels and production companies to post job openings – and an increase in the proportion of BAME talent managers to 20% by the end of 2021 are also proposed.
An independent reporting procedure for workplace grievances and improved workforce monitoring that is mandatory for both development and production are also recommended, along with a year-long mentoring scheme for mid-level workers with networking events, leadership training, an industry mentor and events for the alumni of the scheme over the following years,.
“We believe that these five proposals are a good starting point for discussion and that they will be a catalyst for real change. However, this means nothing unless there are incentives and consequences put in place to support these proposals.
At the time of writing, the letter remains open for signatures. It will close at 12.00 GMT today before being sent to the broadcasters, platforms, industry bodies and culture secretary.