CBS announced Monday that it aims to diversify its unscripted shows by setting a target to make the casts of all such shows at least 50% Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
The aim is to make the change beginning with the 2021-2022 broadcast season. Per CBS, the network will also allocate at least a quarter of its annual unscripted development budget to projects created or co-created by BIPOC producers at that same time. CBS also plans to develop more initiatives with its production partners to increase diversity across the board in the unscripted space, though those specific plans have not yet been detailed.
“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” said George Cheeks, president and CEO of the CBS Entertainment Group. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our Network.”
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CBS previously committed to making changes on the scripted side as well. The broadcaster announced in July it would devote 25% of its script development budget to projects created or co-created by BIPOC in the 2021-2022 season, while also aiming to have a minimum of 40% BIPOC representation in their writers’ rooms. Also in July, CBS Studios announced a multi-year content partnership with the NAACP.
Many shows, both scripted and unscripted, have been under renewed pressure to increase representation both in front of and behind the camera. Former Black contestants on “Survivor” recently pressed CBS to do more to make the show more inclusive, while critics of ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise have alleged that the show has a long history of racism in its practices.
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