BLACK, Asian and minority professionals in broadcasting have urged their union to boycott a major industry diversity initiative saying it will lack vital transparency, writes Sav D’Souza.
“Ethnic minority professionals are fed up of seeing the broadcasting industry come up with yet another [diversity] initiative that doesn’t make any difference. They are now saying, why should they cooperate unless there is an accepted level of transparency,” said Janice Turner, the diversity officer of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph & Theatre Union (Bectu).
The muchhyped Project Diamond, a new diversity monitoring initiative from the Creative Diversity Network (CDN) which is set to be launched this summer, has been called “a game- changing initiative” that will “provide unprecedented levels of detailed data about diversity in television, far more information than is available in any other creative industry”.
But Bectu’s ethnic minority mem- bers have criticised the scope of the project, which has led to the union considering boycotting the project
Gerry Morrissey, the general secretary of Bectu, said the broadcasters’ record had resulted in many black, Asian and minority ethnic profes- sionals losing their careers and cost- ing many others thousands of pounds in lost income.
Turner told Eastern Eye about the union’s ongoing battle with industry diversity initiatives over the level of transparency that broadcasters have had to comply with.
She explained how under the Independent Television Commission (ITC) from 1997-2002, there was a substantial increase in the employment of minorities in commercial television. Under Ofcom, who took over the remit from ITC, ethnic minority representation in the industry went down by 31 per cent from 2006-2012. Of com refused to release data similar to what the ITC had done, which result- ed in Bectu taking the regulator to a tribunal to force them to do so.
“The records of ITC and Ofcom make it absolutely clear that the way to progress in diversity in any industry, is to have transparency to be able to hold companies accountable,” said Turner.
Bectu is trying to get an agreement with CDN to publish breakdown of data by companies; for example, to see how many BAME professionals were employed on the production of Coronation Street and in what roles. Bectu’s BAME members have insisted that this was the only way to really see how well companies are doing and to hold them accountable for any lack of diversity. Without this important transparency of individual production data, Bectu is considering boycotting Project Diamond.
Bectu have pointed to the fact that the Arts Council of England and the BFI have agreed to make this data available for productions with over 50 employees. A meeting between Bectu and CDN has been scheduled for June 27.