Channel 4 in vow on representation after report from group led by Sir Lenny Henry

Channel 4 has set out off-screen commitments to improving representation after a report from a group spearheaded by Sir Lenny Henry.

Sir Lenny Henry
Sir Lenny Henry

The broadcaster has pledged to maximise Black representation off-camera and aim for 100 per cent representation behind the camera.

It follows the lengthy report for the channel by The Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity (LHC) at Birmingham City University.

Channel 4's pledge comes as part of Black to Front – set on a day in September – project with the entire schedule fronted by Black talent.

It will encompass every genre, from news to drama, and will involve all areas of the business including advertising, marketing and All 4.

Kelly Webb-Lamb, deputy director of programmes and head of popular factual, said: "We've been working with The Sir Lenny Henry Centre to help us ensure Black to Front leaves a lasting legacy.

"We asked the centre to make far reaching recommendations which challenge us as we tackle this urgent and important issue for the industry.

"We welcome the centre’s input which hopefully will allow Black To Front to provide genuine opportunities for Black talent to progress their careers and transform the next generation of creative decision makers who will impact what we see on-screen in the future.”

Other pledges from the broadcaster include all new commissions to help maximise Black representation of camera – as well as funding progression placements on at least 10 shows to maximise the number of credits they receive on programmes.

Marcus Ryder, visiting professor at LHC and head of external consultancies at Birmingham City University said: "We are encouraged by how Channel 4 has positively embraced the recommendations outlined by the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity for the Black to Front day and recognise the need to prioritise Black representation behind the camera in positions of editorial responsibility as well as on-screen.

"We hope the report will not only help Channel 4 but inform other broadcasters in shaping their diversity and inclusion policies."

Channel 4 will publish the learnings and data from Black to Front in order for the industry to assess where there are skill shortages and to inform policy going forward, as well as helping Black people to understand where there might be opportunities for them.

The centre – which includes Dudley-born comedian Sir Lenny Henry – is a research centre which aims to bring together the expertise of media professionals and academics – to improve diversity, with accurate representation of all sections of society in all layers of the UK media being "vital".

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