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A Lenny Henry Effect? Leading UK Broadcaster, Sky, Announces New Targets to Improve Minority Representation

A Lenny Henry Effect? Leading UK Broadcaster, Sky, Announces New Targets to Improve Minority Representation

Maybe actor Lenny Henry’s very public ongoing diversity push, focusing his attention on the opportunities for black and minority ethnic groups in the UK TV and film industry today (catch up on that here), inspired this move…

Sky (the UK and Ireland’s leading home entertainment and communications company) has announced that the company is stretching new targets to improve the representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people across its entertainment channels. The targets are designed to ensure that programmes on Sky 1Sky AtlanticSky Living and Sky Arts better reflect the diversity of Sky’s 10.7 million TV customers in Britain and Ireland. In addition, as the fastest-growing source of investment in original British programming, Sky wants to play a leading role in making the television industry more accessible to talented people from all backgrounds.

Sky’s new targets address the diversity of talent both on screen and behind the camera. To drive real and sustainable change, Sky will work closely with companies from the independent production sector to seek out and nurture new talent.

By the end of 2015, Sky aims to achieve the following targets for the new program it commissions for its entertainment channels.

– On Screen Portrayals: All brand new, non-returning shows on Sky entertainment channels will have people from BAME backgrounds in at least 20% of significant on-screen roles. This commitment covers all types of programs, including drama, comedy, entertainment and factual.

– Production: All of Sky’s original programs will have someone with a BAME background in at least one senior production role. This is aimed at providing more opportunities for people with BAME backgrounds to reach senior positions within the production community.  

– Writing: 20% of writers on all shows will be from BAME backgrounds in order to promote a greater diversity of voices in Sky programs and scripts.

– Commissioning: Sky will also be offering a 12 month placement within their commissioning team as part of the Creative Diversity Network’s Commissioning Leadership Program.

Stuart Murphy, Sky’s Director of Entertainment said: “Sky is dedicated to making programs that feel representative of every one of the millions of viewers that watch our content every day, whatever their color. So we have tackled the issue with the same sense of ambition that we show in all other areas of our business, setting ourselves a set of tangible goals that will hold us to account. Our aim is to kick start a sea change in the on screen representation of ethnic minorities on British television. It’s an incredibly exciting time, and I am very proud that Sky is going to be at the forefront.”

Sky is the UK’s biggest investor in television content, investing more than £2.6 billion (about $4.3 billion) a year in channels such as Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Sky Arts, Sky Sports, Sky Movies and Sky News. Sky distributes its content broadly over several platforms, including satellite, cable, IPTV, mobile and WiFi.

More than 30 million people watch Sky content each week.

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