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Race to be Heard: new report calls for independent racism body in broadcasting

15 December 2020

A report published by Bectu today is calling on broadcasters, industry stakeholders and entertainment unions to form a new independent reporting body to tackle racism in the broadcasting industry.

‘Race to be Heard: Racism Reporting Body for UK Broadcasting sector’ was commissioned by the broadcasting union, Bectu, and written and researched by the respected producer and academic Marcus Ryder MBE. It follows the powerful MacTaggart lecture given by David Olusoga at the Edinburgh TV Festival and reports of racism in the industry that were published by the Huffington Post and Eastern Eye during the summer.

Marcus Ryder MBE carried out extensive desk-based research and interviewed sixteen key stakeholders, representing a range of organisations and expertise from across the industry. Every broadcaster and industry body spoken to acknowledged that no one has a clear understanding of the level of racism in the industry, with most believing that it is underreported.

The report makes four key recommendations:

  1. Establish an industry wide body which can both gather reports of racism from all the major industry bodies as well as be a body that people in the industry can go to, to report incidents of racism including anonymous reporting.
  2. The body should be able to initiate investigations into issues of systemic racism that would be unlikely to be raised by individual complainants.
  3. The body should be able to offer advice and assistance to people who believe they are the victims of racism, and/or feel they have experienced unequal treatment due to their race, on how to process a complaint and the resources available to them to pursue a complaint.
  4. The body should publish an annual report on the state of racism in the industry to measure progress, build on best practice and learn from mistakes. The annual report should be complete with policy suggestions for industry stakeholders on how to tackle racism.

Writing about racism in the creative industries in June 2020, head of Bectu Philippa Childs wrote that Bectu must “work with our industry partners to deliver the positive change that is so deeply needed and so long overdue.” The publication of this report marks an important step in delivering on that pledge to Bectu members.

Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, said: “I am proud that Bectu commissioned this important research into the reporting of racism in broadcasting. The report shines a light on the experiences of many working in our industry, both employees and freelancers, and those who have sadly left due to complaints not being adequately dealt with.

“The report recommends that an independent reporting body is established to monitor racism in broadcasting and signpost complainants to advice and support. It is now the job of all broadcasters, industry groups and stakeholders to work together to establish this new reporting mechanism. Workers reporting racism deserve to have their voices heard and a robust process put in place that they can trust. I hope a new, independent body will deliver that vital trust.”

Marcus Ryder MBE, author of Race to be Heard, said: “I am very happy that Bectu asked me to do this important piece of work. I was overwhelmed with the general consensus of all the major stakeholders I spoke to in the industry, from the broadcasters to the trade unions and trade bodies, that racism is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.”

“There is a clear belief from the vast majority of people I spoke to that the level of racism is under-reported and we need to take action to address the problem.”

Race to be Heard: racism reporting body for UK broadcasting sector

Download the full report

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