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BBC Radio earmarks £12million for 'diverse and inclusive' content 

"Lela Mauriello" (2020-07-24)

BBC Radio has announced it will demand independent contractors to employ 20 per cent of their staff from disabled, poor and ethnic minorities as it announces an investment of £12 million for diverse and inclusive content.

The money, which will come out of its existing budget, will be spent over three years on diverse stories and portrayals, diverse production teams and talent, and diverse-led companies.

The corporation specified diverse and inclusive, adding: 'These initiatives will target the areas in which we have the most work to do when it comes to representation, including ethnicity, disability and social-economic background.'

James Purnell, director of BBC Radio and Education, said they will use the funds to 'build a diverse, creative future for BBC Radio & Music, relevant to all our audiences' (stock photo)





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It will cover new programming commissioned by network radio and BBC Sounds from 2021/22 and will be open to both in-house and independent production companies.

BBC Radio & Music has said it wants to be the best organisation in the audio sector to work with and for, with 'an inclusive culture, diverse teams and representative programmes' and will ask suppliers in the independent sector to meet a 20 per cent diversity target in their teams.

When asked how this would be enforced, a BBC spokesman said they were 'working with AudioUK (the audio producers' association) on the details on implementation and timings'.

The BBC has said it will also create more opportunities for emerging, diverse audio talent with BBC Sounds Lab, which will launch in the autumn and give creators the support they need to turn their ideas into a podcast outside of the existing commissioning structure.

June Sarpong was appointed the BBC's director of creative diversity in 2019

They will be given access to studios and equipment at the BBC, as well as technical support, and will be helped by an experienced executive producer, with some of the podcasts made available as commissions on BBC Sounds.

James Purnell, director BBC radio and education said: 'Aided by these commitments, we will build a diverse, creative future for BBC Radio & Music, relevant to all our audiences.

'We'll hear more diverse stories, voices and experiences on air, and open up the BBC and the whole industry for people to thrive in, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

'Last month we signed up to the Equality in Audio Pact, an initiative which kick-started a hugely important discussion in the industry, and today we are putting forward our commitments which we hope will add to the overall ambition of the audio sector to change and become more representative.'

June Sarpong, who was appointed director of creative diversity in 2019, added: 'I am proud that the BBC is accelerating the pace of change and boosting our commitment to diverse talent - with a specific focus on race, disability and class - ensuring that the creativity of some of our most under-represented communities is unleashed and included.

'Building on our creative diversity commitment for TV, these changes will make a huge difference to our radio and music teams, the wider audio industry, and what listeners can expect to hear on the BBC.'

The announcement comes after the BBC announced they would prioritise £100 million of their existing commissioning budget over three years towards diverse and inclusive content.

The corporation described it as 'the biggest financial investment to on-air inclusion in the industry' and added that it will be supported by a new mandatory 20 per cent off-screen diversity target in all new network commissions from April 2021.

They confirmed this will include people with a disability, those who are black and minority ethnic and individuals from a disadvantaged socio-economic background. 

The BBC's pledge comes in the wake of a wave of Black Lives Matter protests in the UK and across the world following the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Director general Tony Hall described the move, which will apply from April 2021, as a 'big leap'.

He said: 'The senseless killing of George Floyd - and what it tells us about the stain of systemic racism - has had a profound impact on all of us.

'It's made us question ourselves about what more we can do to help tackle racism - and drive inclusion within our organisation and in society as a whole.

'This is our response - it's going to drive change in what we make and who makes it. It's a big leap forward - and we'll have more to announce in the coming weeks.'

Last year, the BBC pledged to ensure 50 per cent of on-air roles will go to women by 2020.

It also set targets of 15 per cent on-air roles to be for BAME groups, eight per cent for disabled people and eight per cent for LGBT staff.