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CBC steps up diversity push

Canadian pubcaster the CBC will now require at least 30% of all key creative roles on indie productions to be held by those who self-identify as Indigenous, black and/or people of colour, or those with disabilities.

Sally Catto

The programming diversity commitment is effective immediately and relates to all original scripted and unscripted series commissioned by CBC from independent producers.

It has been introduced so CBC can “better reflect Canadian audiences and advance equity, inclusion and representation in the Canadian production industry,” the pubcaster said.

Announced at the Banff World Media Festival last week, the move builds on the previous diversity commitment made by CBC/Radio-Canada at Banff in 2019.

This saw the pubcaster aim to ensure by 2025 that at least one of the key creatives in all scripted and factual commissioned programmes will be held by a person from a diverse background.

CBC said most original series on its 2021/22 programming slate now meet this first goal and many are already achieving and in some cases exceeding the new 30% target.

These include Coroner, Diggstown, The Porter, Pretty Hard Cases, Run the Burbs and Sort Of. CBC said it will “continue to discuss and evolve the new commitment in partnership with the Canadian creative and production industry.”

Each type of series will have a tailored, genre-specific approach to what is considered a key creative role. For example, for scripted drama, comedy and kids’ live-action series, the 30% requirement will apply to all writer, director and principal performer roles.

The new commitment will be included in all CBC contracts with independent producers and will also require producers of current CBC series to set action plans detailing how they will work to increase equity and representation across existing productions.

“We know we have work to do to better represent the voices and lived experiences of creative talent from Indigenous, black and all racially diverse communities as well as those with disabilities, all underrepresented groups that are significantly underemployed in the Canadian industry,” said Sally Catto, general manager for entertainment, factual and sports at CBC.

“This new commitment formalises our ongoing efforts to increase equity and representation across all areas, and is an immediate first step in ensuring that our original series will be led by a more diverse range of creative talent who authentically reflect more communities and perspectives across the country.”

The broadcaster added that it remains committed to ensuring that at least one of the key creative roles on all of its original French-language scripted and unscripted programming is held by someone from an equity-deserving group by 2025.

Beyond that, it is increasing its investments in initiatives such as Synergies to help build greater capacity for diverse talent within the Francophone market.

CBC/Radio-Canada added it will also maintain the public broadcaster’s momentum in gender equity, having already surpassed gender parity goals across all commissioned programming.

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