Idris Elba, Emma Thompson Urge UK Networks to Spend More on Minority Programs


Luther star Idris Elba and other entertainment industry representatives have called on British TV networks to dedicate more funding to programs for ethnic minorities.

They spoke out in an open letter, published by The Guardian, among others, that was also signed by Emma Thompson, Stephen Daldry, Neil Gaiman and dozens of other industry insiders. It urged the BBC, ITV and others to set aside money for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) programs. They argued that recent BBC and ITV initiatives to improve BAME representation on and off the screen did not go far enough.

We the undersigned are writing you this open letter because together you are responsible for the most powerful broadcasting institutions in Britain and are therefore in a unique position to shape and form the future of British television.

We are dismayed at the poor numbers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people both on our screens and working behind the camera

Today, only 5% of employees in our creative industries are BAME, despite BAME’s making up 12.5% of the total UK population.

In order to redress this imbalance, we believe that the training, mentoring and development schemes recently announced, although welcome, are not sufficiently radical to effect significant change.

We propose, therefore a solution that would almost immediately stimulate growth throughout the BAME creative community: a ring–fenced pot of money for BAME programmes.

The effect of this fund would be to engender and encourage television that would reflect one of Britain’s greatest strengths; our diversity.

Let us be clear about how this ring-fenced money would work. It is about quality of programming, not quantity: money is only spent when quality projects are identified - not to fill a quota. The major broadcasters have already set targets for the number of programmes produced outside London, and in the nations.

To increase ethnic diversity we are asking you to look at what has worked before and extend it for BAME communities. Ring-fencing money would not only guarantee results, but also create a more stable space for BAME talent on screen and behind the camera.

The BBC recently also unveiled diversity initiatives, including a diversity action group, quota targets for minority staff and programs, an executive development program and a $3.5 million (£2.1 million) fund for the development of ideas from BAME individuals. And ITV has said it would target to mirror the ethnic makeup of Britain on the screen and off.

source: hollywoodreporter, theguardian