BBC Chief Tony Hall Unveils Plan to Boost Diversity

Tony Hall – P 2013
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The U.K. public broadcaster aims to increase onscreen representation of minority ethnic groups from 10.4 percent to 15 percent by 2017, and staff levels from 8.3 percent to 15 percent by 2020.

LONDON – BBC director general Tony Hall set out his plans to address the on and offscreen representation of the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community at the BBC.

The plans include setting up a $3.6 million (£2.1 million) commissioning fund to make sure public broadcasting "represents every family and community in the U.K.”

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Speaking to members of Creative Access at the BBC’s Elstree Studios, Hall said that the BBC of the future "should represent every family and community in the U.K. and be the number one career choice for young people with creative ideas, whatever their background."

The map to diversity includes a new top-level leadership development program, commissioning funding and training and "stretching targets" to make sure the BBC delivers on its new commitments.

The director-general also announced the appointment of a fresh independent diversity advisory group to ensure the BBC’s work remains relevant and effective.

Hall said: "The BBC gets much right on diversity, but the simple fact is that we need to do more. I am not content for the BBC to be merely good or above average. I want a new talent-led approach that will help set the pace in the media industry. I believe in this and want our record to be beyond reproach. That won’t be achieved overnight, but the package of measures I’ve put in place, alongside the support we’ll get from leading experts, will make a tangible difference."

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He promised to review progress regularly, adding: "and if we need to expand our approach even more, then we will. It is something we have to get right. My aim is for the BBC to be the number one destination for talented people regardless of their background. It’s time for action."

The BBC's new diversity creative talent fund will support the development of ideas across all genres with BAME writers, talent and production staff encouraged to get involved.

"This money will be re-prioritized from other budgets and will come on stream on Sept. 1. It will help fast track great ideas and projects onto screen," Hall said.

The BBC will launch an assistant commissioner development program to train six "commissioners of the future" to work in comedy, drama, factual, daytime and children’s programming.

In the next three years the BBC said it aims to see on-air BAME portrayal increase from 10.4 percent to 15 percent by 2017.

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BBC News has set local targets in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester to reflect the population.

And off-air, the BBC already has a series of targets for staff representation that it aims to achieve by 2017.

In addition, the BBC announced Friday targets to boost its BAME senior level staff across TV and radio production, broadcast journalism and commissioning and scheduling from 8.3 percent currently to 10 percent by 2017 and then to 15 percent by 2020.

A small group of experts will join the independent diversity action group, to be chaired by Hall, including actress, presenter and broadcaster Floella Benjamin and actor and writer Lenny Henry, who will advise and support the BBC on diversity.