The latest report from broadcast industry-monitoring initiative Project Diamond released today (28 January 2021) paints a bleak picture for writers.
Diamond The Fourth Cut, published by the Creative Diversity Network (CDN), is based on over 740,000 contributions from over 36,000 creatives (29% completion rate) making UK-originated content across 30 channels and for the five main broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and C5ViacomCBS.
The data, which relates to TV programmes broadcast between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020, reveals that only 6.5% of writers are from BAME backgrounds, 33.4% are female, 21.4% are 50 or over and only 3.5% are disabled, with all of these falling below the figures for the UK workforce population.
The situation for disabled writers and writers from BAME backgrounds is particularly bad, with BAME writers representing half of the UK workforce population and disabled writers less than a quarter.
The report states that the latest data “shines an unforgiving light on the scale of inequality to be addressed”, set against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement and Covid-19, which has had a “devastating impact on production, and an as yet unknown impact on mental and physical health as well as the diversity of those who work in the whole industry.”
Indeed, off-screen contributions for BAME groups has fallen from 12.3% to 11.8% since the last report.
WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said:
“The report reinforces what we already know – the situation for writers working in UK TV is appalling in terms of equality and diversity and urgent action is needed now, particularly in light of the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on the industry.
“I remain disappointed that once again the report falls short by not identifying those broadcasters, genres and production companies which might be making positive steps forward, as well as those who need to do much more.
“Trade unions have repeatedly called on CDN and the broadcasters to share programme-level data with unions, we need that transparency as an essential first step to bring about systemic change in our industry. ”
WGGB’s Equality and Diversity Committee is currently in the process of assessing how the union can expand its Equality Writes campaign to tackle inequality amongst BAME writers in the screen industries. Members who would like to contribute to the union’s work in this area should contact the Equality & Diversity Committee by email: ED@writersguild.org.uk