“On Diversity – Ofcom talks tough but acts weak” by Simon Albury

Off-screen diversity of BBC employment is the issue. In September 2016, Ofcom CEO, Sharon White told the RTS she was considering quotas, harder targets and ring fenced funds to advance BBC diversity.

Now, in its proposals for regulating the BBC, Ofcom has set no diversity employment targets, no trigger point for ring fenced funds and Ofcom has made it clear that it doesn’t plan to set regulatory requirements or performance measures for off-screen diversity at the BBC. When it comes to diversity, Ofcom talks tough but acts weak.

The Digital Minister, Matt Hancock, and the Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley have made the right decisions – they both want Ofcom to take effective action on diversity of employment at the BBC.

Last Thursday, Karen Bradley spoke at the RTS Cambridge Convention. She told delegates:

“The BBC – and indeed UK television – also needs to look like the country it represents, both on and off screen.”

“I make no apology” she said, “for writing to Ofcom to outline the Government’s position that the BBC should be leading the way with both on and off-screen diversity – and that it is up to the BBC Board and Ofcom as the regulator to hold them to account.”

Bradley went on, “I fully respect the fact that it is for the broadcasters, the BBC board, and Ofcom to implement the changes we all want to see, but it is also right that I should lay down a challenge for them to do so.

It will not be straightforward but just because something is hard does not mean that we shouldn’t try.”

And Karen Bradley concluded, “Diversity is not merely a buzzword. ……, it is a vital phenomenon – the absence of which means that we cannot collectively thrive as we should do. The aggregate effect of making things fairer and more accessible for individuals can be enormous – injecting even more talent into our TV industry and showcasing our country in all its diverse glory to the world.”

Article 14-Diversity

There is a clause in the BBC Charter – Article 14 Diversity – the only clause that actually has diversity in the name.

Article 14 says is that diversity must no longer be under-represented in the suppliers of content and services or in the organisation and management of the BBC.

This year Ofcom held a consultation on regulating the BBC. Hidden away in footnote 66 to paragraph 4.123 on page 45 – Ofcom declared that it was excluding Article 14 – Diversity from the scope of its consultation. When it comes to diversity in suppliers of BBC content and services – Ofcom doesn’t want to know.

Getting data on the diversity of BBC suppliers isn’t going to be easy but as Karen Bradley said “Just because something is hard does not mean we shouldn’t try”.

It is little wonder that Lenny Henry, the NUJ, DirectorsUK, the Campaign for Broadcasting Equality and Stonewall all sent in evidence to the Ofcom saying when it comes to diversity Ofcom needs to up its game.

The Campaign for Broadcasting Equality, has now got legal advice from a top lawyer specializing in regulation and that lawyer says that in excluding Article 14 – Ofcom got it wrong.

Diversity & Equal Opportunities in Television

For thirteen years, Ofcom has had a statutory duty to promote equal opportunities in broadcasting and it has done almost nothing – but last Thursday, Ofcom published extensive reports on Diversity & Equal Opportunities in Television. These reports do represent a very substantial advance and Ofcom does deserve credit for that – but some information is missing.

Ofcom’s report said the BBC is 13% BAME. In July the BBC said it was 14.5% BAME.  What neither Ofcom nor the BBC highlight – is the percentage of BAME people actually working at the BBC in creative roles making output for a British audience.

That is crucial information because one of the BBC’s public purposes is to reflect and serve the UK’s diverse communities – and how can the BBC do that if the diverse communities are not properly reflected in the workforces of the BBC and its suppliers?

In a Guardian article, in May 2016, I said the percentage of BAME people actually working in the BBC making output for a British audience was just 9.2%.

My statistical wizard, at the time, was working at the BBC and preferred to remain anonymous. He is now in Beijing as chief international editor of CCTV News Digital, part of China Global Television Network. It is Marcus Ryder.

For the Policy UK Conference, I asked Marcus to recalculate, using the BBC’s most recent published data. This is what Marcus Ryder says:

When you look at the BBC’s BAME figures and want to know how many are producing content for a UK domestic audience you can immediately strip out three divisions:

1. World Service Group (Who make content for the world service and global news – Swahili Service etc) 54.2% BAME

 

  1. World Wide (Who are dedicated to selling BBC content but not producing it) 20% BAME

 

  1. Director and Deputy Director Group (comprises of all the core professional and business management functions in the BBC but do not produce programmes http://careerssearch.bbc.co.uk/jobs/job/HR-Director-Deputy-Director-General-Group-DDGG/19571) 16.6% BAME


Once you strip these three divisions out the percentage of BAME staff in the rest of the BBC is 9.8% (or 9.7993%)

Even this is misleading as it includes Production Coordinators, Secretaries, Production Managers and other non-editorial support staff who annecdotally are thought to bring the BAME figures up.

By “anecdotally”, Marcus means that he hears that there is a greater concentration of BAME people in the support staff than in creative roles and if you took only creative roles you would have less than 9.8% BAME. (BBC Studios is 9.5%).

Diversity in supply

When it comes to all suppliers, including external suppliers, Sir Lenny Henry says the number of BAME people making the BBC programmes we all watch is probably around 1.5%. Sir Lenny was extrapolating from DirectorsUK research.

We do need to know the truth about the diversity of BBC external supply and not only with regard to programmes. Ofcom should be finding out the truth and telling us what is is.

Programme Diversity Data

Ofcom should also be publishing simple programme diversity data – that is the % of BAME people working on-screen and off-screen – at least on the top ten programmes in every genre. This would tell us if diversity is being pushed to the margins.

The broadcasters are dead set against the publication of programme diversity data. Why? Do the broadcasters have something to hide? In the case of the BBC, Ofcom has the statutory power to get this information. Ofcom should get this information now.

If Ofcom were to get programme diversity data and publish it, it would encourage the unions to remove their boycott of Project Diamond. This would help give Project Diamond a better response rate than the current 24.3% – and so, greater value as a source of data.

Diversity Conference

In two months, the Ofcom Chief Executive, Sharon White, is speaking at a Westminster Media Forum diversity conference. I do hope that, then, Sharon White can give us some simple programme diversity data and tell us what Ofcom plans to do about the diversity of the external suppliers of BBC content and services. In November, we might just see that Ofcom can talk tough and act tough too.

For more detail on Article 14 and the legal opinion, see:

http://www.thetvcollective.org/2017/09/13/ofcom-diversity-lies-lawyers-and-whatever-next-part-2-simonbg12/

Based on a Speech by Simon Albury, Chair, Campaign for Broadcasting Equality to “Diversity in Television: On Screen, Off Screen and in the Boardroom” Conference, 19 September 2017 at Burlington House, London W1J 0BA

 

 

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OFCOM’S WAIT AND SEE REGULATION IS WRONG FOR EMPLOYMENT DIVERSITY

Evidence to Ofcom Consultation on the Draft BBC Operating Framework (July 2017) from Simon Albury, Chair, Campaign for Broadcasting Equality CIO

OFCOM’S WAIT AND SEE REGULATION IS WRONG FOR EMPLOYMENT DIVERSITY

This submission addresses the Draft BBC Operating Framework in relation to BAME diversity.[1] What it proposes in relation to BAME might be applied to other under-represented groups.

Conclusion

 Ofcom has made it clear that its preferred approach to regulating the BBC in relation to diversity of employment is wait and see. Ofcom says it wants to wait and see how the BBC responds to the new statutory responsibilities on diversity and to monitor the BBC’s progress towards meeting its own goals.

The Campaign for Broadcasting Equality evidence demonstrates that the BBC Annual Plan, fails to set credible goals based on credible data. It cannot stand as an adequate response from the BBC to its new statutory responsibilities on diversity. Ofcom no longer needs to wait. It should be able to see this.

Neither the BBC Annual Report nor the BBC Equality Information Report adequately take into account the BBC’s new statutory responsibilities on diversity.

In order for Ofcom to ensure that the BBC meets its obligations under the Charter and Agreement, Ofcom must now establish, in the first operating licence, credible base lines and targets which can be incorporated in specific regulatory requirements and performance measures for off-screen employment diversity.

Employment Diversity – A Human Issue

 Diversity in employment is a human issue. BAME people cannot be treated like spectrum, fibre and copper wire, which have no memory. Ofcom has limited experience of dealing with human issues.

Last November, the Ofcom CEO, Sharon White, agreed that diversity was “an area where we have not done enough in the past” and said “it is now a priority for us”.

On diversity, Ofcom’s history is shabby.[2]

Ofcom launched on 29 December 2003.

Section 27 of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act) imposed a duty on Ofcom to take appropriate steps to promote equal opportunities in broadcasting. Ofcom has not taken its equality duty seriously and has failed to take appropriate steps to promote equal opportunities. Had it done so we might have expected to see an increase in BAME employment. Skillset data shows that between 2006 and 2012, the reported BAME numbers working in the UK television industry declined by 30.9%.

But in addressing its regulatory responsibilities, Ofcom’s historic reluctance to act as an effective regulator on diversity is now reflected in its reluctance to apply regulatory requirements and performance measures to off-screen and workforce diversity in the BBC.

On employment diversity, Ofcom must stop being a reluctant regulator.

Ofcom prides itself on operating as an evidence-based regulator but it has failed to look and see the history of an absence of diversity and the complete evidence of diversity failure at the BBC.[3]

Ofcom has also failed to recognise the urgency of the issue for BAME people who know they are grossly under represented among those who actually work for the BBC in UK creative roles making output for a British audience.[4]

Wait and see regulation

On 13 July, Ofcom held a “BBC Performance diversity stakeholder event.” [5]

It was clear at that meeting that Ofcom could not see why it needed to introduce regulatory requirements and performance measures for diversity of employment at the BBC as a matter of urgency. BAME participants left the meeting angry at Ofcom’s ignorance and apparent insouciance.

Ofcom’s preferred approach to regulating on diversity is to see how the BBC responds to the new statutory responsibilities on diversity, and to monitor the BBC’s progress towards meeting its own goals.

Ofcom said that if the BBC was not achieving its own goals, Ofcom would return to the issue in two or three years’ time and consider inserting statutory requirements into the BBC’s operating licence. This is wait and see regulation.

BBC Annual Plan

 The BBC Annual Plan sets out how the BBC proposes to address these matters.[6]

At the stakeholder event, critics pointed out that the section on diversity was strong on assertions for which no source or evidence had been provided. A former ITV company board director said that such a threadbare annual plan for diversity would never have passed muster even in a small ITV broadcaster.

Ofcom offered to circulate, later in the day, the relevant sources and evidence, to be supplied by the BBC, on which some of the assertions were based.

More than a week has passed but that information has not been forthcoming.

It was clear at the meeting, that the BBC Annual Plan for 2017/18 for diversity is manifestly based on unreliable assertions.[7]

One wonders how the BBC board, with its wealth of commercial experience, came to approve a document that is so flimsy on diversity. Ofcom explained it was giving the BBC board “the space to set out how they themselves are going to meet their objectives.”

Despite articles in the Guardian and Broadcast last year, Ofcom appeared wholly unaware that the basis on which the BBC presents diversity data is misleading.[8] As a consequence, Ofcom has, to date, failed to carry out the necessary due diligence on the BBC’s published diversity data.

Ofcom must now recognise that for diversity, the base lines and targets in the BBC Annual Plan for 2017/18 are based on unreliable and unsustainable assertions.

“What more do you need to know?

When confronted with evidence of the BBC’s failure to come anywhere close to its BAME employment targets in production, Ofcom pleaded that it needed to know more and that it would be looking for more information.

Ofcom said it was a very information and fact-based organisation, and it wanted to know the reality of what’s happening, and the evidence before it could know what the BBC is committing to, and before knowing what Ofcom needed to do.

People with an interest in BAME employment were incredulous and asked “What more do you need to know?” and “Why aren’t you setting targets for the BBC on UK BAME employment on programmes made for the UK?”

Why is Ofcom so far behind?

 When the BBC White Paper was published on 16 May 2016, it was clear that Ofcom would become its regulator and that diversity on-screen and off would become more important.

When the draft BBC Charter and Agreement were published on 16 September 2016, the diversity provisions would have been clear to Ofcom. If it had paid attention to Parliament it would have understood that these provisions were unlikely to be changed.

Ofcom would also have known that Parliament was giving equal weight to on-screen and off-screen diversity. Yet in explaining Ofcom’s dilatory approach to obtaining data on BAME employment, Ofcom said it had only been the BBC’s regulator since the 3 April 2017. Had almost a year been allowed to slip by before this evidence-based regulator did even basic desk research on evidence of patterns of BAME employment in the BBC? Why did it wait to see?

Ofcom offered that were it to find that the BBC was failing to meet the BBC’s own BAME employment targets, then Ofcom might initiate a “deep dive” on diversity and it might address the issue in the second or third iteration of the Operating Licence, in two or three years’ time.

It is hardly surprising that those who have paid closer attention to the issue of BAME representation in broadcasting left the Ofcom meeting angry at Ofcom’s lack of knowledge and lack of urgency.

“Wait and see” regulation will not wash on employment diversity.

With immediate effect, Ofcom should establish what it calls “an ad hoc deep dive” on BBC diversity, to establish credible base lines and targets which can be incorporated in specific regulatory requirements and performance measures for off-screen employment diversity. These should, inter alia, match the requirements of BBC Charter Article 14, to which we shall return in this evidence.

What gets measured, gets done.

 What gets measured, gets done. Matters that are subject to regulatory requirements and performance measures are taken more seriously than matters that are not.

Ofcom forcefully insists that it is wholly incorrect to say it does not give equal weight to on-screen and off-screen diversity.

It is naive or disingenuous for Ofcom to suggest that on-screen and off-screen diversity are given equal weight, when on-screen diversity is subject to regulatory requirements and performance measures while off-screen is not.

Ofcom’s view demonstrates an ivory tower perspective – a profound failure both to understand the impact of regulation and performance measures on the regulated, in this case the BBC, and also their impact on the confidence of those with an interest in this issue, BAME people in broadcasting.

Ofcom bias against off-screen diversity

 Following publication of the BBC Charter and Agreement, DCMS published the “BBC Charter Review 2016 Information Sheet – Diversity”, to provide a guide to the key clauses on diversity.

Among the Charter clauses to which it referred were: Article 6. (4) Public Purpose and Article 14. Diversity.

From the Agreement it cited Clause 14, “Performance Measures”, Schedule 2, Clause 2 (1)(d) on the needs of the diverse communities, and Schedule 3 Clause 12 “Equal Opportunities”.

When Ofcom sent out the Agenda for the 13 July diversity stakeholder event, the only Clause to which Ofcom referred was Article 6. (4) “Public Purpose” which was set out in full.

Article 14. Diversity

 Ofcom failed to include any reference to Article 14. “Diversity”.

Why, at a diversity stakeholder event, would Ofcom not circulate the one Article in the BBC Charter that has the word “diversity” attached to it?

Article 14 contains the key clause about off-screen diversity. This Article was given greatest prominence in the DCMS Information Sheet which leads with a section on “The government’s policy.” Its first words:

“Over the next Charter period, the government wants the BBC to be the leading broadcaster in addressing diversity issues on and off-screen..”

Charter Article 14. Diversity says this :

 (1) 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.

 This is emphasised and repeated again in the Article

 4) In complying with this article, the BBC must have particular regard to the need to reflect underrepresented communities.

 (1) 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

 “the means” must mean all suppliers of programmes within and outside the BBC including independent producers

 the “by whom” must include those with a diversity of protected characteristics

This means that BAME people must no longer be under-represented in the suppliers of content and services or in the organisation and management of the BBC.

Ofcom has been quoted in the press saying[9] “We expect the BBC to increase diversity off-screen, and it has a workforce target of 15% representation of black, Asian and ethnic minorities, across all staff, including leadership, by 2020. We are clear that we will consider further action if we don’t see early and continued progress.”

Ofcom is not meant to monitor BBC overall employment, that is not its remit.

Ofcom is meant to monitor where programmes are produced and by whom. The BBC’s 15% target can be met with little effect or relevance to what Ofcom is meant to be monitoring.

Ofcom must set targets (or at the very least monitor) for who is producing the programmes. The BBC’s current statistics do not address this and Ofcom is not asking the BBC to do so. Ofcom does not appear to understand its duty and obligation. Article 14 cannot be ignored.

Turning to the Agreement

Schedule 2 Clause 2 (1)(d)

Schedule 2 Clause 2 (1)(d) The first operating licence: In setting the first operating licence, Ofcom must consider the need for the BBC to take into account the needs of the diverse communities of the UK’s nations and regions. This is one of the ways Ofcom will be able to hold the BBC to account on their performance on diversity.[10]

This makes clear that in setting the first operating licence Ofcom must take into account the needs of diverse communities.

At the diversity stakeholder event, Ofcom stressed that it is “a evolving licence” which would be updated and improved from time to time. That may be acceptable for other elements of the Charter and Agreement but with regard to diversity, Ofcom needs to accept that there is an expectation that it will get diversity right in the first operating licence when it is published at the end of September. “Wait and see” for two or three years is not compatible with “the first operating licence.”

Schedule 3 Clause 12 Equal Opportunities

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.[11]

The Equal Opportunities clause reinforces all of the above.

Article 6.4 Public Purpose

 This Article is primarily about on-screen and on-air representation. It says “…the BBC should reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom both in its output and services. In doing so, the BBC should accurately and authentically represent and portray the lives of the people of the United Kingdom today, and raise awareness of the different cultures…”

The workforce informs the content in terms of accuracy, authenticity and portrayal.

Given this relationship, Ofcom should seek and publish simple on-screen and off-screen diversity data for the top ten programmes in each genre.

Ofcom has made it clear that it is not relying on Project Diamond. Project Diamond is a hugely ambitious and potentially valuable project. Not only would publishing such programme diversity data provide essential information, it might also persuade the Unions to lift the boycott on Project Diamond. The boycott itself is acknowledged to be making Project Diamond less effective.

Sir Lenny Henry Speech

On 18 July, Sir Lenny Henry delivered a speech at an event at Portcullis House.[12] In it he provided compelling evidence which led him to the following conclusion:

“while the BBC’s official figures say 14.5% of their work force are BAME, the number of people actually responsible for making the programmes you and I watch, is probably closer to 1.5%.”

During a subsequent discussion, politicians made it clear that the BBC and Ofcom were far from meeting the objectives which Parliament had set them, and that they expected Ofcom to set regulatory requirements, performance measures and minimum standards for employment diversity now. They could see no case for “wait and see”.[13]

BBC Annual Report

On the following day, 19 July, the BBC published the BBC Annual Report 2016/7[14] and the BBC Equality Information Report 2016/7.[15]

There was nothing in these reports to contradict Lenny Henry’s conclusion that the proportion of BAME people employed making programmes for the UK audience is closer to 1.5% than the 14.5% that the BBC claims.

Furthermore, as far equality and diversity is concerned, the form of BBC reporting in the Annual Report and Equality Information Report has not changed to take into account the new requirements of the BBC Charter and Agreement.

Ofcom’s duty

Ofcom has made it clear that its preferred approach to regulating the BBC is to see how the BBC responds to the new statutory responsibilities on diversity and to monitor the BBC’s progress towards meeting its own goals.

This approach is unsatisfactory for the reasons outlined above and fails to meet Ofcom’s obligations.

Ofcom no longer needs to wait and see. It is now clear that the BBC Annual Plan fails to set credible goals based on credible data. It cannot stand as an adequate response from the BBC to its new statutory responsibilities on diversity.

Neither the BBC Annual Report nor the BBC Equality Information Report adequately take into account the BBC’s new statutory responsibilities on diversity.

Ofcom has a clear duty now to establish credible base lines and targets which can be incorporated in specific regulatory requirements and performance measures for off-screen employment diversity in the first operating licence.

Anything less shows a woeful lack of resolve to fulfill its own statutory duties.

[1] I am grateful to Ofcom for agreeing that views expressed by its staff in a meeting held under Chatham House rules can be attributed to Ofcom.

[2] 1 Campaign for Broadcasting Equality Evidence to Ofcom PSB Review 2015.

This evidence was available via the Ofcom website but, alas, is no longer.

2 “Ofcom diversity record ‘shabby” Broadcast 9 March

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/ofcom-diversity-record-shabby/5084041.article

[3] There are numerous sources. The Campaign for Broadcasting Equality evidence to the Lords Communications Committee Inquiry on BBC BBC Charter Renewal is just one.

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communications-committee/bbc-charter-renewal-public-purposes-and-licence-fee/written/21757.html

[4] “The BBC’s Diversity Strategy is Not Good Enough” Simon Albury, Guardian 4 May 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/may/04/the-bbcs-diversity-strategy-is-not-good-enough

[5] I am grateful to Ofcom for agreeing that I might report some of the views it expressed in the meeting. I cannot be comprehensive. If Ofcom feels I have left out significant elements I hope it will address the omissions as soon as possible and correct any matters where it believes it has been misrepresented.

[6] BBC Annual Plan for 2017/18

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/howwework/reports/pdf/BBC_Annual_Plan_2017-18.pdf

[7] To present the discussion in the Ofcom meeting on which this conclusion is based would breach the rules under which the meeting was held. The point is reinforced in RESPONSE TO: “HOLDING THE BBC TO ACCOUNT FOR THE DELIVERY OF ITS MISSION AND PUBLIC PURPOSES” WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO SECTIONS 4.128 – 4.134 ON DIVERSITY By Lenny Henry.

[8] As footnote 4

+ “Diversity targets must address creative roles” Simon Albury, Broadcast 20 May 2016

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/opinion/comment/diversity-targets-must-address-creative-roles/5104235.article

[9] “Lenny Henry: Ofcom is practising ‘fake diversity’ with on-screen targets”

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jul/19/lenny-henry-ofcom-practising-fake-diversity-on-screen-tv-targets

[10] DCMS BBC Charter Review 2016 Information Sheet – Diversity

[11] ibid

[12] Lenny Henry – Ofcom, TV and Fake Diversity

https://cbesite.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/lenny-henry-ofcom-tv-fake-diversity-full-speech/

[13] A senior Ofcom member was present at the event but chose not to speak from the floor. Later Ofcom told a member of the press that Ofcom hadn’t been invited. Then a Chris Wynn, bearing the same name as Ofcom’s Director of Communications and a similar beard too, tweeted that Ofcom had only been invited two days before. Ofcom had been invited on 3 July more than two weeks before. It does not give confidence when a regulator cannot distinguish between the measure of a day and a week.

[14] BBC Annual Report 2016/7

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/reports/pdf/bbc-annualreport-201617.pdf

[15] BBC Equality Information Report 2016/7

http://www.bbc.co.uk/diversity/strategy/eir-2017

Lenny Henry – Ofcom, TV & Fake Diversity (Full Speech)

THE DIVERSITY SPEECH: 18 JULY

 “Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen ,honoured guests….that bloke at the back who’s just here for the meat raffle; Good afternoon.

Now I think you’ll all agree that in today’s Britain with Brexit looming, the need for all our voices to be heard is more important than ever. In a country where racist attacks are on the rise, diversity is not a luxury , it is essential.

And in an age where people retreat into their own social media bubbles of self reinforcing and extreme world views, and that includes the leader of the free world, diversity isn’t a luxury , it is essential.

A media that reflects everyone’s realities , fears, aspirations and stories, is perhaps the only solution to our increasingly splintered society.

It can be the glue that binds. .

In one of the most competitive international markets, where original content creation is key –diversity is not a luxury , it is essential.

The good news is that today , every single major broadcaster recognises the importance of diversity, from Sky to channel four. And diversity is now for the first time, an official part of the BBC Charter.

None of the broadcasters were doing these things before we started campaigning.

There has definitely been progress in furthering our cause and we should be proud of that.

But unfortunately, today is not a day of celebration , because progress isn’t victory . Today I’m sounding the alarm, because all that hard earned progress might come to nothing.

 Why?

Well, yesterday, Ofcom, the organisation which effectively polices the broadcast industry, completed a consultation process on how the BBC’s performance should be measured, including meeting their diversity commitments under the new charter.

At the back of the room is the formal response that my colleagues and I have submitted to Ofcom. Please read it at your leisure .

The headline, my biggest concern , is something I want to call Fake Diversity .

Let me explain: Right now, Ofcom say they will set the BBC targets for onscreen diversity but will not set targets for diversity behind the camera. They suggest that as long as we have a BAME (i.e. Black, Asian or minority ethnic)person on the TV screen ,giving the appearance of diversity, then it is absolutely OK; even if those who create and make the content remain un-diverse.

This is ‘Fake Diversity.’

It’s all very well to keep saying – “Look, this show has a black supporting artist, or an Asian antagonist, or a gay lead: but who was the cinematographer, the editor, the director, the producer or the commissioner? If the pickers and deciders remain the same –then nothing has really changed.

Now I love Ofcom-and I am sure they believe with all their heart, that behind the camera is just as important as on screen. But much as I love them – the fact of the matter is; What gets measured gets done.

When the regulator sets targets, broadcasters have to meet them. And Ofcom are not setting targets for behind the camera diversity. So irrespective of their best intentions, their current approach will just lead to more fake diversity.

But the problem of fake diversity is not exclusive to just Ofcom or any one broadcaster. Currently, every single broadcaster has its own definition of diversity. Some focus on onscreen diversity –others have definitions that are so broad, including: Gender, disability, sexuality, race and class, that as long as programmes can tick three of those boxes, they are officially ‘diverse’. But once you make it that broad, surprise surprise, almost every programme can be made to fit that definition.

And the result?

Just take a look at this picture of the winners of this year’s major television craft awards: These awards are presented to off screen talent.

All gifted people, but you can hardly call them ‘diverse’ –look at that -it’s like a White House Staff meeting.

This is the dirty secret of what our industry really looks like behind the camera.

So, what exactly are the statistics concerning BAME employment off screen.

The BBC recently stated that 14.5% of its workforce are Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic. That’s great, isn’t it? Let’s open a bottle of Cava and all remove one item of clothing.

That number looks good, right? But let’s investigate how they arrived at that figure.

A large number of those BAME staff work in the business and finance departments.

These people are important but they are not directly involved in programme making.

The figure also includes all the staff employed by the World Service, in departments such as the Swahili, Arabic and Far eastern services- as well as specialised teams based in London, often not broadcasting in English, and definitely not aimed at the British Audience. If you remove these people, only around 9% of the work force making programmes you and I watch or listen to, are BAME.

To quote Donald Trump’s Barber…” It gets worse.”

That 9 Percent only comprises people with BBC contracts.

But over half the programmes you watch and enjoy on the BBC are made by independent companies. And the BBC doesn’t keep statistics on those companies.

So, what is the true number of BAME programme makers working for British Broadcasters?

The truth is, no one knows –but here’s a clue.

Director’s UK, the professional association of TV and Film directors, found that just one point five percent of programmes in the UK are made by people of colour. That’s not just the BBC, that is across the industry.

That number includes Channel 4, Sky, ITV and Channel 5.

I stress this because I am not BBC bashing here – I’m an equal opportunity basher. No one can accuse me of not being inclusive. Besides, I’d like them to bring back Delbert Wilkins.

So, let me give you another number; ZERO

In the director’s UK sample study, zero is the number of talk shows directed by BAME people.

It doesn’t end there.

Zero: the number of period dramas directed by BAME people

Zero: The number of game shows directed by BAME people

Zero: sketch shows directed by BAME people

Reality TV? (looks around) Zero

Panel shows? Say it with me –everybody: Zero

Children’s comedy: With feeling, everybody: Zero

Children’s entertainment: Let ’em hear you in downing street: Zero

Multi Camera and Entertainment – Say It – (Zero!)

Actually, you’re wrong there – I’m over the moon because this number, everybody is not zero –it’s 0.06% – Can I just get you (points at one guy up front) to do one hand clap for that 0.06%?

(dude claps once) Thank you my friend (don’t overdo it)

So, while the BBC’s official figures say 14.5% of their work force are BAME, the number of people actually responsible for making the programmes you and I watch, is probably closer to 1.5%.

The Number of BAME people behind the scenes in our industry is at crisis level. And we need you, Ofcom to do something about it.

For those of you who tell me I should be patient, that things are changing but just slowly, I want us to bow our heads and remember those dearly departed in the last year:

Aaquil Ahmed: The first Muslim head of BBC religion

Maxine Watson: Acting head of documentary commissioning

Tamara Howe: Controller of Business, comedy and entertainment

David Okuefuna – the first black channel executive of BBC’s 4 and 2

Marcus Ryder –Head of current affairs BBC Scotland.

Ok they aren’t actually dead, but in the past year, all these senior BAME figures have left the BBC.

The situation is so bad, the BBC themselves even covered the issue on BBC 4’s media show. This isn’t crazy Black radicals, or the right-wing alt right brigade bashing the BBC, this is white people in the BBC itself saying “Tarquin, we have a problem.”

And here’s the crazy thing.

If Ofcom actually insisted the BBC were more diverse behind the camera, the outcome might be greater relevance for today’s audience, higher viewing figures and an increase in overseas sales.

A study in the US showed that TV Dramas with 40 to 50% BAME behind the camera were the most successful. You know the least successful? The ones with less than 10 % BAME.

By asking Ofcom to set behind the camera targets, we’re literally asking them to put money into the BBC’s pockets.

Today I am highlighting some of the problems in British media. But it impacts on all strata of British society.

You need only look at the negative commentary about immigrants in the press, the uneven reporting on Muslims here in the UK; the value placed on some people’s lives right here in London, who can’t make themselves heard –even when all they’re asking for is a decent sprinkler system.

As I said at the beginning – ‘Diversity is not a luxury –it is essential’

This is a fight about who is and who isn’t considered British:

Whose voices do and do not matter:

Our voices matter.

Our stories matter

Our lives matter.

The fact is, Diversity has been defined and addressed already, very successfully by Ofcom.

Well, regional diversity that is. And it was all about regional diversity behind the camera.

They didn’t try to measure how many people were wearing kilts on screen, or whether someone had a Geordie accent: Channel 4’s Big Brother was NOT a regional programme: (Big Bro voice) “Day 756 in the Big Brother hoose – and Sir Lenny is still banging on about div-vor-sity, man.”

When it comes to regional diversity, Ofcom set a clear definition-it included: where a programme’s money was being spent, who was employed behind the camera and where the company making the programme was based. Ofcom must do the same for other types of diversity.

You know what else Ofcom did? They set a minimum level that the BBC and other Broadcasters must meet in order to fulfil their license requirements.

They set a minimum number of programmes which must be made outside London;

they   set a minimum number of current affairs programmes that Channel 4 and the BBC must produce every year.

They even set a minimum number of children’s programmes that must be produced.

When it comes to BAME diversity, Ofcom must do the same: they must set a minimum standard the BBC have to meet behind the camera.

For God’s sake , all we’re asking ,is to be given the same respect as Peppa Pig!

 

            The fact is, it is possible and actually quite easy, to set enforceable targets for those employed in front of and behind the camera. It is possible to ring fence money for diverse programmes. It is possible to make our media truly diverse.

           

            Ladies and Gentlemen, Ofcom, esteemed politicians: Britain has some of the best media in the world but it is failing far too many of us. There are many factors at play but a lack of genuine diversity is at the core of this problem. We cannot afford to fail. We cannot get our media wrong. The stakes are too high.

If the British Television industry is to maintain its position in an increasingly competitive international marketplace; if it is to serve both a domestic and a global audience, then diversity behind the camera is essential.

I’d like to finish with a direct plea to Ofcom: so much has been done in recent years to improve diversity on screen. All we’re asking for is the same concerted effort in all areas of production, to ensure that what we see on screen TRULY reflects what goes on in the real world. Diversity is not a luxury, it is essential.

 

           

 

 

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.