BBC Commits $124 Million to Diverse Productions, Talent

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BBC HQ in London

The U.K. public broadcaster is also putting into place a mandatory 20-percent diverse-talent target for all new commissions as it plans "bold steps that will help make the BBC an instrument of real change."

The BBC is committing £100 million ($124 million) of its existing commission budget towards diverse and inclusive content over three years, starting in 2021.

The investment — set out Monday as part of the U.K. public broadcaster's Creative Diversity Commitment — will be supported by a new mandatory 20 percent diverse-talent target in all new commissions from April 2021. 

The decision was made in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and what it said about the "stain of system racism," said outgoing BBC director general Tony Hall. "It’s made us question ourselves about what more we can do to help tackle racism – and drive inclusion within our organization and in society as a whole," he explained. 

June Sarpong, who joined the BBC as director of creative diversity in late 2019, said the move was the first in a series of "bold steps that will help make the BBC an instrument of real change."

Alongside the investment, the BBC has also committed to running regular meetings across the country to engage with talent from traditionally under-represented minority groups, develop an accelerator program for on and off screen diverse talent, and prioritize investing and developing diverse leaders within the organization. Led by Sarpong, the Creative Diversity Unit will publish a new strategy over the summer, while the BBC will also publish a detailed Diversity Commission Code of Practice later this year at the same times as its Annual Report.

“When I met Steve McQueen last year during the making of Small Axe, he challenged me and the BBC to set meaningful targets and take proper action," said Charlotte Moore, the BBC's director of content. "He was right. Today’s announcement represents a truly transformational commitment to both on and off screen representation. Concrete, tangible action is the only way we can bring about real sustainable change."

The announcement comes less than a day after more than 3,500 figures from the U.K.'s film and TV industry signed an open letter calling for the top-level executives and decision makers to make several "strategic commitments" to reshape the landscape of the sector and "tackle structural and systemic racism."