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BBC Director-General to chair Cultural Diversity Network


Mark Thompson, the BBC Director-General becomes Chair of the Cultural Diversity Network (CDN) today for a period of two years. He takes over from Channel 4’s Chief Executive David Abraham.

As Chair, Mark Thompson will lead an association of Britain’s leading broadcasters and independent production companies to improve diversity in the television industry – both on screen and behind the camera.

Mark Thompson said: “I look forward to building on the strong progress made over recent years and working in close partnership with the rest of the industry. Everyone working in broadcasting has a responsibility for promoting diversity both on and off screen. By drawing on the talents of all parts of society and reflecting their lives on screen, we can make better programmes for audiences. I’d like to thank Channel 4 for chairing so effectively during their tenure.”

David Abrahams, outgoing Chair of the CDN and Chief Executive of Channel 4, added: "After a fantastic two years the time has come to handover the chair of the CDN to the BBC. During Channel 4’s tenure, which was begun by my predecessor, Andy Duncan, we launched the CDN Diversity Pledge, to which an impressive 274 independent production companies are now signed up, and launched the CDN Diversity Awards.

“I’m proud of what the team here have achieved but, as always, there is still much to do and the broadcast industry cannot afford to become complacent. We will continue to work collaboratively with our colleagues at the BBC, and across the TV industry, to ensure diversity remains high on everyone’s agenda.”

Past CDN initiatives have also included a successful Senior Mentoring Scheme, now in its third year, designed to address the lack of diversity in senior management across UK media organisations. Further enhancing the scheme is a priority for 2011 alongside new projects.

The CEOs and senior executives from the major UK broadcasters will meet in January to agree a common diversity strategy for the coming year.


The CDN is an association of Britain’s leading broadcasters and independent production companies, originally formed in 2000, to improve the representation of ethnic minorities in television both on screen and behind the camera. It focuses on working with its member broadcasters on sharing expertise, resources and models of good practice.

As members of the CDN, programme makers and commissioners are encouraged to think about ethnic minority representation, disability, sexual orientation, age, gender and social background when casting or recruiting.

Diversity Pledge

The CDN introduced a Diversity Pledge in 2009 – a public commitment by independent production companies, in-house producers and their suppliers to take measurable steps to improve diversity in the television industry.

The pledge is split into four sections covering different aspects of diversity with practical suggestions on how to improve representation. The approach is flexible – it’s up to individual companies to set their own agenda.

The four aspects are:

1. Recruiting fairly and from as wide a base as possible and encouraging industry entrants and production staff from diverse backgrounds.
2. Encouraging diversity in output.
3. Encouraging diversity at senior decision-making levels.
4. Taking part in, or running, events that promote diversity.

Senior Mentoring Scheme

A key initiative for the CDN is this industry-wide senior mentoring scheme. Its goal is to provide the support, encouragement and guidance that talented people need to reach senior commissioning or programming positions. The scheme is open to people from the black and minority ethnic groups. There are 25 places available nationally.

Successful applicants are teamed up with a volunteer mentor for 12 months, starting in January. The mentor will be a senior member of the industry from one of the CDN’s member organisations.

The scheme is purely voluntary, so there’s no specific financial support available.



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