Reading the headlines of Tony Hall’s latest measures to tackle cultural diversity at the BBC, I have to admit I was speechless for a minute. After years of frustrations, campaigning, emailing MPs and threatening to withhold the TV licence fee was change on the way?
In the BBC’s blueprint for boosting diversity, there will be two leadership development programmes, and an intern scheme created, as well as new staff diversity targets.
They didn’t go quite as far as implementing The Lenny Plan, Lenny Henry’s proposal to ring-fence a percentage of the BBC’s annual commissioning budget for programmes with black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation targets. They have however created The Diversity Creative Talent Fund.
Although not a quota, the £2.1m fund aims to address BAME portrayal on air. It will help support development of television projects across all genres, fast tracking ideas from diverse writers, talent and production staff. The funding will be re-prioritised from existing BBC budgets and be made available from September.
It all sounds great, but I’m not ready to break open the champagne just yet as I know these measure don’t go as far as some would of hoped. And with no quotas and funding directly in correlation to the overall programme spend does the plan really have teeth? Or is it more the of same but in different wrapping?
Early next month there is a meeting a senior group of black and Asian programme makers, execs and commissioners and it will be interesting to hear their thoughts.
But let’s be honest, even for the hardened cynic it’s hard to deny the BBC is showing a real commitment to tackle the issue. Even if it is just to alleviate the mounting pressure.
So instead lets raise a cautionary glass of Cava to our collective efforts. Without the debates, campaigning, emailing MPs and threatening to withhold the TV licence fee this moment may never have come.
For me it’s a testimony that you can be the change you want to see. Now let the real work begin.
Read full details of the BBC plans here.
Do you think this blue print goes far enough?