• UK TV industry “disproportionally recruiting” private-school educated people
  • Disabled people remain under-represented, Ofcom chief tells RTS Cambridge event
  • UK needs TV industry where “differences are celebrated” says Sharon White

Sharon White Ofcom RTS cambridge 2019

Ofcom CEO Sharon White on diversity: “The dial hasn’t shifted”  

Ofcom CEO Sharon White has called for more concerted leadership from UK broadcasters and production companies to improve diversity in the TV industry.

White, speaking at the RTS Cambridge Convention, said “the dial hasn’t shifted over the last three years” in terms of improving diversity in the UK industry.

She was speaking as Ofcom revealed new research that showed the UK TV industry is strongly skewed towards people from privately-educated backgrounds.

Ofcom’s Diversity and Equal Opportunities in Television report said that, according to evidence submitted by fourteen major broadcasters including the BBC, Channel and Viacom, the TV industry is disproportionally recruiting people from private-school backgrounds. People working in television are twice as likely to have attended private schools.

TV workers are also almost twice as likely than average to have grown up in homes where the main earner held a professional occupation (60%, compared to the national average of 33%). More than half of television industry employees’ parents or guardians had degree-level qualifications or above.

The report also said that disabled people remain under-represented, with no improvement since last year, while women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds remain under-represented at senior levels.

White said: “We want a TV industry where differences are celebrated, and the door is open to all. But the evidence shows that the dial towards full inclusivity is not shifting quickly enough, and we cannot allow progress to stall.

“Broadcasters must redouble their efforts to understand their workforces, examine what is working, and strive harder to attract the most talented people into television – whatever their characteristics or backgrounds.”

She called on the industry to take further steps, including improving the data it provides to Ofcom, introducing targeted recruitment and development programmes for disabled people, and broadcasters measuring the effectiveness of the initiatives they have in place.

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