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All New BBC Shows to Have At Least 20 Percent Diverse Talent Starting in April 2021

The BBC has announced it's putting $124 million toward increasing inclusive programming.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 11:00:01 on 10/09/2019 - Programme Name: Small Axe - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Letitia Wright - (C) McQueen Limited - Photographer: Des Willie

Letitia Wright in Steve McQueen’s BBC anthology series “Small Axe”

BBC/McQueen Limited/Des Willie

The BBC has announced a $124 million pledge toward increasing diverse and inclusive programming over the next three years. The U.K. broadcaster says the pledge is the biggest financial investment in diverse programming in the history of the U.K. television industry. Deadline reports the $124 million fund will be taken out of the BBC’s existing content budget and extend to educational programs, children’s television, and more.

According to Variety, the $124 million fund will also be used “to support BBC’s Diversity Code of Practice, and commit the corporation to create content with at least two of the following three priorities: diverse stories and portrayal on-screen; diverse production teams and talent; and diverse-led production companies. Progress will be reported in the BBC’s Annual Report.”

In addition to the financial commitment, the BBC is also instating “a mandatory 20 percent diverse-talent target across all new network commissions from April 2021.” The talent initiative means that at least 20 percent of “talent” on new shows commissioned by the BBC starting in April 2021 will come from “a black, Asian, or minority ethnic background.”

“With this commitment, the BBC is throwing open its doors more widely than ever to diverse stories and diverse storytellers,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “The media industry is not changing fast enough. The BBC has been committed to creative diversity and inclusion for 100 years; but we now want to go further.”

The BBC’s announcement arrived just a day after more than 3,500 members of the U.K.’s film and television industry signed an open letter urging for “strategic commitments” to increasing representation in the media. The letter was signed by the likes of Idris Elba and “I May Destroy You” creator Michaela Coel. British film director and Oscar winner Steve McQueen also published an op-ed over the weekend in The Observer calling out the “blatant racism” that exists in the U.K. film and television industry.

“Last year, I visited a TV-film set in London. It felt like I had walked out of one environment, the London I was surrounded by, into another, a place that was alien to me,” McQueen wrote, adding that he is “fed up” by the racism that exists. “I could not believe the whiteness of the set. I made three films in the States and it seems like nothing has really changed in the interim in Britain. The U.K. is so far behind in terms of representation, it’s shameful.”

For more on the BBC’s initiative to increase diversity, head over to Deadline to read the full report.

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