Ofcom and the BBC – BAME Employment Ignored

 

1 Ofcom should require the BBC to provide diversity data on all people employed in the provision of its output and services; in terms of the main production centres, nations and regions; and for at least the top ten progammes in each genre.

2 Ofcom has started a consultation on detailed proposals for an operating framework for how it will regulate the BBC performance under its new Royal Charter. Consultation closing date: 17 July 17 Final documents “end of September”.

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0033/99519/bbc-performance-consultation.pdf

3 Ministers have said BAME employment OFF-screen is as important as BAME employment ON-screen.

4 The BBC Charter (14.1 Diversity) and Agreement (12 Equal Opportunities) give OFF-screen and ON-screen equal weight.

5 The Ofcom proposals do not give OFF-screen and ON-screen equal weight. Ofcom does not propose that BAME employment should be a performance measure for the BBC nor is Ofcom proposing relevant regulatory conditions.

6 Tell Ofcom BAME and diversity of employment should be included in the BBC performance measures and regulatory conditions.

Background

BBC Charter

  1. Diversity
  • The BBC must ensure it reflects the diverse communities of the whole of the United Kingdom in the content of its output, the means by which its output and services are delivered (including where its activities are carried out and by whom) and in the organisation and management of the BBC

Included in the proposed operating framework is “The BBC must ensure it reflects the diverse communities of the whole of the United Kingdom in the content of its output”. Ofcom says

“1.19.5 To require the BBC to improve its on-screen and on-air diversity, with the overall intention of ensuring that the BBC’s output and services reflect the whole of the UK. We are proposing new conditions to require the BBC to report annually on the delivery of on-screen and on-air diversity, audience satisfaction, and the steps it is taking to improve audience satisfaction among dissatisfied audience groups. We propose that the BBC must agree with us a new diversity code of practice to ensure its newly commissioned content accurately represents, authentically portrays and reflects the diversity of the UK population.”

Ignored is the part of the Clause about employment diversity which says:

  • The BBC must ensure it reflects the diverse communities of the whole of the United Kingdom in ………. the means by which its output and services are delivered (including where its activities are carried out and by whom) and in the organisation and management of the BBC

“the means by which its output and services are delivered” must mean in-house staff and out of house suppliers and production companies

“where” must mean the main production centres, nations and regions

by whom” must mean the people engaged in-house or by external suppliers

“and in the organisation and management of the BBC” adds this as an additional clarification to the other criteria.

Schedule 3 Clause 12 Equal Opportunities: This clause specifies that the BBC needs to ensure equality of opportunity when employing anyone in connection with providing any of the UK Public Services

Ofcom should require the BBC to provide diversity data on all people employed in the provision of its output and services; in the categories of the main production centres, nations and regions; and for at least the top ten progammes in each genre.

In addition, Ofcom should set and publish minimum standards for diversity which need to be met by the BBC, setting the clear expectation that the BBC will make significant progress on improving diversity. In the absence of significant progress, Ofcom should require the BBC to take further positive action in accordance with the guidance published by EHRC and Ofcom in August 2015.

BAFTA/BFI Film Diversity Measures may not lead to BAME employment – 17 December 2106

The press has overblown the film diversity measures announced by BAFTA this week. The Guardian reported they mean “nominees must show they have boosted opportunities for ethnic minority and socially disadvantaged film-makers.” That is not true. On Talk Radio, Julia Hartley-Brewer said a film that was “too white, too straight and too male” couldn’t win a BAFTA. As her 12.45pm phone guest, I explained why that wasn’t true. The Telegraph suggested that I had said that BAFTA’s membership requirements and old awards system had “blighted progress in the industry for decades”. Again not true.

Let’s look at what is true. When it comes to membership, BAFTA has done well. Last week in the members’ bar, Sugar Films supremo and industry big wig Pat Younge was doing business with a large diverse group at one of BAFTA’s big round tables and, as usual, there were many other BAME people around the room. So, on membership BAFTA starts from a good place.

Now Variety reports that, for 2017, BAFTA has “abolished the requirement for new member applicants to need proposers and seconders from the existing membership”. If true, this removes the “who you know” hurdle from joining BAFTA and is a great move and deserves a big welcome. As I did tell the Telegraph – on diversity “who you know” has blighted progress in the industry for decades.

What has caught the press’ eye is BAFTA’a announcment it will add the BFI Diversity Standards to the eligibility criteria for the Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer categories from 2019. This is welcome but it might have no impact on BAME or disabled employment on-screen or off. To understand why, you have to look at the full detail of the criteria in the BFI document.

1 To meet the standard only two out of the following four criteria areas needs to be addressed:

• On screen representation, themes and narratives
• Project leadership and creative practitioners
• Industry access and opportunities
• Opportunities for diversity in audience development.

In practice, a film could meet the diversity standard by employing the following combination: an expert advisor, providing one off student work experience, added value in a specific UK region and reaching new audiences through alternative distribution and marketing strategies (e.g. VOD, special events, targeted pricing strategies). All these taken together are very nice but they will not drive the necessary structural change.

2 The most challenging disadvantaged groups may be ignored as, to qualify, a production can choose to focus on only one group from disability or gender or race or age or sexual orientation or lower economic status. The BFI criteria can be matched without addressing BAME or disabled employment at all. As I’m now in my seventies, I might be in with a chance on age!

The most recent Creative Skillset Census 2012 reported for Diversity in Film Production the makeup was

47% Women
5.3% BAME
1.5% Disabled

For matching some paltry measures, a multi million pounds film will now be able to display an impressive Screen Diversity mark of good practice.

bfidiversitymark3

The idea that a film that is “too white, too straight and too male” couldn’t win a BAFTA is clearly nonsense.

With the BFI Diversity Standards, a very small step has been made. It deserves only a very small welcome.