ViacomCBS Networks Int'l Sets “No Diversity, No Commission" Production Policy

ViacomCBS Networks International CEO Dave Lynn
Courtesy of ViacomCBS

ViacomCBS Networks International CEO Dave Lynn

"This approach will ensure that we are both reflecting our audience, as well as elevating new diverse creative voices," says David Lynn, CEO and president of the ViacomCBS unit.

ViacomCBS' ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) unit on Tuesday unveiled a "no diversity, no commission" production policy "to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion by requiring that all new international productions be made by a diverse team."

It said the initiative will apply to its business across five continents and more than 180 countries. The "no diversity, no commission" policy was initially launched by ViacomCBS Networks U.K. in July and is now being rolled out across the organization.

It will require production companies "to adhere to diversity guidelines before budgets are signed off and productions are approved to begin," the company said. "When budgets are agreed, the commissioner or project lead will check for appropriate diversity and recommend improvements, as needed."

The policy will also focus on increasing representation behind the camera "to ensure that a variety of balanced, diverse voices are involved in all areas of production," the firm said.

"Expanding 'no diversity, no commission' to our entire international organization is an important strategic move for ViacomCBS Networks International," said David Lynn, CEO and president of the unit. "ViacomCBS Networks International creates and distributes content to audiences all over the world. This approach will ensure that we are both reflecting our audience, as well as elevating new diverse creative voices."

He added: "Change requires thorough research, careful planning, and immense care, and we’re looking forward to creating impactful, sustainable change through the power of our networks, partnerships, platforms and brands."

The international arm of ViacomCBS has also committed to other initiatives to increase on-screen representation and inclusive storytelling, including "Global Content, Diverse Voices," which will identify scripted content that "elevates underrepresented cultures, across both youth & entertainment and kids & family brands," and moves to elevate diverse creators. For example, in Latin America, 25 percent of ViacomCBS International Studios’ budget will be allocated to the education and development of projects by Black indigenous people of color creators.

"Audiences around the world, particularly younger generations and kids, are becoming more and more diverse in composition, outlook and perspectives, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that our content reflects the world in which our audiences live,"  said Jules Borkent, executive vp, VCNI Kids & Family, “Our research tells us very clearly,  that kids want to see themselves reflected on-screen."

"Diversity, inclusion and equity need to be at the heart of everything we do within our brands and our business," said Kerry Taylor, executive vp, VCNI Youth & Entertainment. "We are committed to doing better, to making progress in this area, and using our platforms to shine a light on the talent, voices and stories that need to be seen and heard. "