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Channel 4’s Inclusion Festival calls for more diverse senior decision makers

More diverse senior decision makers are essential if broadcasting is to become a genuinely inclusive industry, according to the CEOs of the UK’s Public Service Broadcasters, and panellists speaking at this week’s Channel 4 Inclusion Festival.

In individual sessions, the leaders of the UK’s public service broadcasters – Channel 4’s Chief Executive Alex Mahon, BBC Director-General Tim Davie, ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall, and President, Australia, UK & Israel, Paramount Maria Kyriacou – discuss what they feel are the urgent issues facing the industry and how they can be addressed.

The festival focusses on a range of key areas in broadcasting such as the media’s portrayal of Muslims, issues facing disabled talent and the representation of Trans people in TV.

Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon explains the importance of off-screen diversity saying: “Off-screen representation is much harder (than on-screen) because we can’t see it easily. It’s what changes our industry over time. It’s what changes how people make decisions on set. And it changes the creative and editorial conversation.”

BBC Director-General Tim Davie Tim Davie, BBC Director General, said: “Diversity is an absolute priority for the BBC. We have plans in place to reshape our organisation to ensure we truly reflect the public we serve – both on and off screen. The BBC is playing a leading role – stepping up our commitment to rapidly increase diverse representation at senior levels as well as our £112m Creative Diversity Commitment – the biggest financial investment to on-air inclusion in the industry. We are working hard to deliver change.”

ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall cites the importance of diverse leadership and explains: “I’m really proud of a scheme called Amplify, a senior leadership programme for people of colour – you can’t have senior leaders if you don’t have a pipeline of senior leaders, you’ve got to have people that are being developed, and nurtured, and retained. We work hard on inclusion and now we’re actually developing our own senior leaders who are diverse, and that’s what Amplify is about.”

President, Australia, UK & Israel, Paramount Maria Kyriacou says: “2020 was a real watershed moment for a lot of us. There was an immediate call to action and we introduced a policy called – No Diversity, No Commission. It allowed us to have this language that challenged every single production to make sure that we have diversity on-screen and off-screen.

Channel 4 Chief Content Officer Ian Katz said: “Our industry has finally woken up to the scandalous lack of access afforded to disabled talent. Our session is a sharp reminder that broadcasters, streamers and producers need to work together to fix this shameful situation.”

In his keynote speech, Channel 4 News’ main anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy also touches upon the importance of who the decision makers are by posing two key questions: “At the very top management levels, those holding the power, what do we think about the pace of change?… are we really happy to just live with the idea that the gatekeepers may never truly reflect the audiences they serve?”