A damning new report has revealed that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation went backwards in British TV last year.
The recently released Creative Diversity Network’s diamond report found that the number of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people working in key creative roles on UK broadcasters’ programmes decreased by 2% between 2016 and 2017.
This news is particularly concerning given that the TV industry has been repeatedly criticised for its lack of diversity. Only 9% of lead acting roles on UK-made programmes last year were played by black, Asian, and minority ethnic performers, while they made up just 14% of all on-screen contributors.
According to the study, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation on and off-screen has decreased. The report discovered that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation on and off-screen had worsened. Last year’s Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation behind the scenes was 11.8%, down from 12.3% in 2019 and below the UK workforce estimate of 13%.
Drama was the worst offender, with Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation in the genre standing at just 5.9%. Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation among writers and directors stood at 6.5% and 8.4% respectively, which was a considerable drop from 9.1% and 8.6% in 2019. Representation in senior roles across all genres was down 1.4 percentage points to 10.7%.
On-screen, hits including Michaela Coel’s blistering BBC/HBO series I May Destroy You set a new high bar for authentic Black stories, but decisions made by broadcasters and producers across the board resulted in a decrease in Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation. Contributions made by people from diverse backgrounds fell from 22.7% in 2019 to 21.2% last year. This was still, however, above the UK workforce estimate of 13%.
In a statement accompanying the release of the report, CCN Chief Executive Jackie Brockway said that the findings were “deeply disappointing” and called on broadcasters to do more to promote diversity.
“The TV industry must urgently address the lack of diversity at all levels – from programme-makers and commissioners to on-screen talent and senior management,” Brockway said. “We know that a more diverse workforce makes for better programmes and a more successful industry.”
It is clear that there is still a long way to go before the TV industry can truly be called diverse. However, it is heartening to see that some broadcasters are beginning to make progress. For example, Channel 4 have made a commitment to improving Black representation on and off the screen. BBC Two announced plans to increase Black, Asian, and minority ethnic representation on its channels by 20% by 2020.
Hopefully, with a concerted effort from all involved, the TV industry can become a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.