Channel 4 lays out six-part anti-racism strategy

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Leeds-headquartered Channel 4 has set out a six-part anti-racism plan that includes doubling the number of commissions from 'BAME-led' independent producers by 2023.

In a statement, CEO Alex Mahon said: “The death of George Floyd and the reaction it has caused has highlighted the depth of racism, be it structural or individual, that still confronts black and minority ethnic people here in the UK, in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

"As is clear from the testimonies of our Black and minority ethnic colleagues in the industry we are not doing enough and there is not enough progress. Therefore, I want to clearly set out today that Channel 4 is an organization committed to anti-racism and we want to go further in driving positive change within our own organization and in the creative industries.”

The company said it would use its position as a public service broadcaster to educate its audience on anti-racism and has set a target of 20% of staff (including 20% of the top 100 highest paid staff) being BAME by 2023. Currently, 17% of all staff are BAME and 14% of the top 100 highest earners.

The broadcaster will launch a new mentoring program for "our diverse staff" in 2020 "so that they can develop their careers.”

Channel 4 also plans to commission “relevant and authentic content” that reflects the lives of BAME audiences on an “ongoing basis.”

“On the main channel there were eight BAME-led indies commissioned in 2019, and a further 12 were in paid development – in total making up 11% of suppliers,” the broadcaster stated.

Channel 4 has commissioned a new series of short films by black British filmmakers in response to George Floyd’s death that explore how it resonated with black Britons.

Among other commitments, Channel 4 said it would drive up “genuine BAME authorship” by increasing the number of Black directors, executives and writers it works with, and also plans to also have a higher representation than the national average of on-screen presenters, talent and stars.

As part of changes to its supply chain, Channel 4 is launching the BAME-led Indie Accelerator Plan in which each commissioning genre will identify two BAME-led indies to “champion and nurture with a bespoke accelerator plan.”

“We are committed to 50% of our remaining commissioning development spend in 2020 being with BAME-led, Nations & Regions or small indies,” the company said.

“We will continue to be part of the Commissioning Mentoring Network, as part of our effort to grow BAME talent in the industry. We are partnering with The TV Collective to support the BAME creative industry through the COVID-19 crisis.”

Finally, under commitments under its business model, Channel 4′s £1m Diversity in Advertising Award for 2020 will be focused on BAME representation within advertising.

Yesterday, Liverpool’s Lime Pictures, which produces long-running Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, said it was "deeply shocked and saddened" after actress Rachel Adedeji raised questions about the treatment of black cast members.