U.K. Public Service Broadcasters Doing More to Promote Diversity, Says Chief of Producers’ Body PACT

The U.K.’s public service broadcasters, such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, have upped their game when it comes to dealing with inequality and diversity issues within the industry, says John McVay, chief executive of producers’ body PACT.

McVay was providing evidence at a U.K. Parliamentary committee hearing on diversity in TV, which is part of a series of debates on the future of public service broadcasting in the country.

“I think they’re doing more, whether it’s enough yet, I think we have to see the results,” said McVay. “What does that look like in a few years’ time, in terms of senior level progression? Because […] that’s where you make the big change.”

When asked about how public service broadcasters are performing in the area of diversity compared with streaming services like Amazon and Netflix, McVay said he was unable to make a like-for-like comparison. He said this is because the public service broadcasters are required to provide diversity data under rules laid out by industry regulator Ofcom, and also under Diamond, an online system used by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky to obtain consistent diversity data on programs they commission, whereas the streamers are not required to.

The committee noted that the streamers, who have appeared before them in recent months, have not provided diversity data, because it is not a statutory requirement for them.

“If they’re not looking to be more inclusive and diverse, I think that will be damaging to their businesses,” said McVay. “Netflix, who’s made several statements, and I think appeared before you, my understanding is they’re very committed to be more diverse and inclusive. Whether they report on that or not is a matter for them, but I would say that they need to be as engaged in the talent and creativity challenges as the domestic broadcasters.”

Also appearing before the committee, Jacqueline Baker, co-founder of the B Inclusive Task Force, said, “If broadcasters and SVODs are saying that they are implementing a strategy whereby their suppliers need to meet a certain amount of diversity, but then say there’s no way to measure that, or there’s no way for them to hold people accountable for that, that is a real issue, that needs to be addressed.”

“We can’t just keep passing the buck,” Baker added. “Ultimately, someone has to be responsible for that. So that is something that needs to be looked at.”

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