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Broadcast industry leaders call for greater diversity in top jobs

Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon

Broadcast industry leaders have called for more diverse leadership at the very top of the sector to create a more inclusive culture.

Speaking at the Channel 4’s inclusion festival, Altogether Different: Live, this morning the leaders of all the main public service broadcasters, including the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 were in agreement that more diverse senior decision makers are essential if broadcasting is to become a genuinely inclusive industry.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “Diversity is an absolute priority for the BBC. We have plans in place to reshape our organisation to ensure we truly reflect the public we serve – both on and off-screen. The BBC is playing a leading role, stepping up our commitment to rapidly increase diverse representation at senior levels as well as our £112m Creative Diversity Commitment – the biggest financial investment to on-air inclusion in the industry. We are working hard to deliver change.”

Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon was keen to emphasise that what goes on behind the cameras is just as important as what we see on-screen: “Off-screen representation is much harder (than on-screen) because we can’t see it easily,” she said. “It’s what changes our industry over time. It’s what changes how people make decisions on set. And it changes the creative and editorial conversation.”

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall agreed, noting the broadcaster’s Amplify scheme as a means of improving off-screen diversity: “I’m really proud of a scheme called Amplify, a senior leadership programme for people of colour – you can’t have senior leaders if you don’t have a pipeline of senior leaders, you’ve got to have people that are being developed, and nurtured, and retained. We work hard on inclusion and now we’re actually developing our own senior leaders who are diverse, and that’s what Amplify is about.”

Channel 4 chief content officer Ian Katz said that while the industry was finally addressing issues around disabled access, there was still work to be done: “Our industry has finally woken up to the scandalous lack of access afforded to disabled talent. Our session is a sharp reminder that broadcasters, streamers and producers need to work together to fix this shameful situation.”

Channel 4 News’ main anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, meanwhile, used his keynote speech to leave attendees with some burning questions: “At the very top management levels, those holding the power, what do we think about the pace of change? …are we really happy to just live with the idea that the gatekeepers may never truly reflect the audiences they serve?”

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