EXCLUSIVE: The UK’s BAME TV Task Force has held talks with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and is preparing for meetings with Netflix and Amazon just days after publishing a letter demanding action on racial equality.
The group, which sprung up last month amid the Black Lives Matter movement, is lobbying for fundamental change in the television business to stamp out racism and improve representation for diverse storytellers on-screen.
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They wrote to the government and all the major networks in the UK demanding action, and the letter gathered 1,200 signatures from industry influencers including former Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi and Charlie Covell, the showrunner on The End Of The F***ing World.
Deadline understands the group has already met with BBC director general Tony Hall, director of content Charlotte Moore, BBC Two controller Patrick Holland and June Sarpong, the public broadcaster’s diversity chief. Around the same time, the BBC made a pledge to spend £100M ($125M) on diverse content.
ITV director of television Kevin Lygo and Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon have also sat down with the BAME TV Task Force. The group is also scheduled to hold talks with Ben Frow, the director of programs at ViacomCBS Networks UK, and Scottish broadcaster STV, while conversations with Netflix and Amazon will take place in the coming weeks.
It’s a sign of how seriously the industry is taking the letter, which called out casual and blatant racism, railed against tokenism and nepotism, and demanded networks introduce BAME quotas among commissioning and production teams. The Task Force is hoping the meetings convert into “root and branch systemic change.”
It said: “The fact that Tony Hall, Charlotte Moore and Alex Mahon were able to meet us within five days of the letter being sent feels like a really positive indication for making real systemic change going forward.”
The BAME TV Task Force was established by producers Carissa Jumu, Vivian Eguridu, Jacqueline Baker and Abby C. Kumar. The four have credits including Netflix’s The Circle USA and Channel 4’s First Dates.
You can read the full letter they published here. Other supporters include Fleabag actress Sian Clifford, Kidulthood star Femi Oyeniran and Pat Younge, an industry veteran and the former chief creative officer of TV production at BBC Studios.