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CBS sets 50% BIPOC target for unscripted

US network CBS has set a target for 50% black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) representation across all casts for its unscripted series, beginning in the 2021-22 broadcast season.

George Cheeks

The ViacomCBS-owned network has also pledged to allocate at least a quarter of its annual unscripted development budget to projects created or co-created by BIPOC producers, also starting in the 2021-22 season.

In addition, CBS plans to develop future initiatives with its production partners to expand diversity in all of the creative and production teams involved in making unscripted series.

These initiatives build on the targets and commitments CBS announced in July for scripted programming. CBS also set a target for its writers rooms to be 40% BIPOC beginning with the 2021-22 broadcast television season, and a goal to increase that number to 50% the following season.

Meanwhile, CBS Studios entered into a multi-year partnership with the NAACP in July to establish a production venture that develops and produces programming for the broadcast, cable and streaming markets.

Industry veteran Sheila Ducksworth was last month named president of their joint production venture.

In addition, the studio recently signed an exclusive agreement with 21CP Solutions, a group specialising in police reform efforts in the US, to advise on its police and legal dramas.

Last December, it was announced that all CBS reality shows would provide sensitivity/bias and anti-harassment training for both cast and crew before the start of production. All productions will have an on-site professional to provide a confidential means of reporting concerns.

“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 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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