BBC expands representation drive for expert contributors

Image caption, Countryfile is among the programmes taking part in the 50:50 Project

The BBC is to expand a project aimed at getting more female contributors on air to encompass race and disability.

The 50:50 Project launched in 2017 in an attempt to make sure half of experts and other contributors were women.

It is now used by outlets ranging from The One Show to the BBC News Channel, Countryfile, Newsbeat and Radio 5 Live.

Now, the broadcaster has set a target for 20% of contributors to be black, Asian or from other minority ethnic backgrounds, and 12% to be disabled.

The BBC is also calling on other parts of the media to adopt the project, initially focusing on achieving a gender balance.

Director general Tim Davie said he was seeking "as wide a possible group of partners" to gather and publish data about the gender of their contributors next March.

"It's really important that the storytelling comes from across the whole of society," he said. "It's not the preserve of one type of person."

'Reshaping our output'

Media organisations including Australia's ABC and the Financial Times have already signed up to The 50:50 Project.

"To me it's utterly critical that we get women on air, that we seek out all of the talent from across our community," Mr Davie added.

"We've felt it's been so important in reshaping our output, but absolutely this is about the whole industry and making sure modern media companies are really connecting with everyone out there."

The BBC said 66% of its outlets recorded 50% female contributors in March 2020, up from 34% when those teams started counting.

Nina Goswami, the BBC's Creative Diversity Lead for 50:50, said: "When it comes to women's representation, 50:50 enriches our storytelling with new voices and the data helps us think differently meaning we're uncovering new stories.

"By applying 50:50's core principles for disability and ethnicity representation we believe we can amplify a wider range of voices and discover more content that reflects our world. We've a long way to go but together it is achievable."

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