BBC Radio & Music has today (July 23) announced it will boost its commitments to diversity and inclusion.
In what they claim is a first in the radio industry, BBC Radio will be committing £12m of its existing commissioning budget over the next three years specifically towards diverse and inclusive content.
An official press release stated that it is being done “with a clear goal to be the best organisation in the audio sector to work with and for, with an inclusive culture, diverse teams and representative programmes.”
The £12m will cover new programming commissioned by network radio and BBC Sounds from 21/22, and is open to both in-house and independent production companies to compete for. The qualifying commissions will create content across criteria including diverse stories and portrayals, diverse production teams and talent, and diverse-led companies.
BBC Radio is asking its suppliers in the independent sector to meet a 20% diversity target in their teams.
Coupled with this news is the launch of BBC Sounds Lab this autumn, a new initiative giving budding audio creators the support they need to turn a great idea of theirs into a podcast outside of the existing commissioning structure.
An official press release stated: “Over the course of a year each of the creators will be aided by an experienced executive producer, and will have access to studios and equipment at the BBC as well as technical support so their podcast can be made available to listeners. Some of the podcasts will also be made available as commissions on BBC Sounds.”
The press release continued to state that the 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.”
More details are expected to be confirmed in due course. BBC Audio already has specific diversity targets in place.
Speaking about the initiative, James Purnell, director BBC Radio & 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, director of creative diversity, 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 underrepresented 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.”
These commitments are part of a wide-ranging plan to create more diverse teams, representative programmes and an inclusive culture across BBC Radio & Music, including going further than the divisional BAME workforce target of 15% by 2021 by asking every part of BBC Radio & Music to meet this by end of 2023.