The latest report from Ofcom has revealed that women, ethnic minorities and disabled people are all under-represented by broadcasters.
The report, Diversity and equal opportunities in television 2017, has led Ofcom to call for more diversity among broadcasters, with a particular focus on the BBC who should be ‘leading the way’.
Channel 4 is currently the most diverse channel with 59% female employees, 18% ethnic minority employees and 11% disabled employees. The equivalent staff breakdown at the BBC is 47% female, 13% ethnic minority and 4% disabled.
By 2020, the BBC wants its employees to comprise 50% women, 8% disabled people, 8% lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people and 15% people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds. Ofcom is currently reviewing all the responses to its draft operating licence for the BBC, and will finalise the licence in the autumn.
Ofcom also discovered that many broadcasters don’t know their staff make-up, with poor monitoring widespread.
To improve diversity across the industry, Ofcom has announced a series of measures it plans to implement. They include changing the way it monitors broadcasters, holding broadcasters to account in line with their licences and even taking action against broadcasters who fail to provide the required data. On this occasion, 57 licensees failed to respond to the request for information before the deadline, and as such the regulator has begun enforcement action.
Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, said: ‘Television is central to the UK’s cultural landscape, society and creative economy, and we believe that creativity in broadcasting thrives on diversity of thinking.’
Ofcom announced three measures which all broadcasters should take as a starting point to increase diversity:
- Broadcasters should regularly measure and monitor the make-up of their workforce
- Ofcom expects broadcasters to set clear diversity targets so their employees more accurately reflect the society we live in
- Diversity transformation should be led from the top. We want chief executives to be accountable for delivery against their diversity targets
Across the whole of the UK, women make up 51% of the population, ethnic minorities make up 14% and those with a disability make up 18%.