Ofcom calls on broadcasters to curb diverse talent drain

Broadcasters in the UK are facing a ‘diverse talent drain’, regulator Ofcom has said.

In a new report, Ofcom has warned that more people are leaving the TV and radio industries than joining and that broadcasters are struggling to retain workers in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Alarmingly, more women are leaving broadcasting than joining. 

While the situation has improved over the last five years, the report notes that the lack of diversity among senior decision makers remains significant, and disabled people continue to be underrepresented across the industry.

Ofcom noted that disabled people in particular are “woefully underrepresented”, making up 7% of TV and radio employees – less than half the UK benchmark of 19% in 2020/21 

In publishing the report, Ofcom has called on broadcasters to work harder to represent the UK’s ethnic diversity, particularly among senior decision-makers.

In addition to ethnic diversity issues, socio-economic diversity is also lacking. TV employees are almost twice as likely to have had parents in professional occupations (59% compared to the UK benchmark of 33%) and to have attended private school (13% compared with a UK average of 7%).

Vikki Cook, Ofcom’s Director of Broadcasting Policy, said: “Broadcasters have made progress hiring a wider range of talent. For example, there are twice as many people working in radio from minority-ethnic backgrounds as there were three years ago. But for the first time, more people are leaving the industry than joining, particularly women, while disabled people remain significantly underrepresented. And because companies have focused on entry-level recruitment, there still isn’t enough diverse talent in senior roles.

“So we’re calling on broadcasters to slow the revolving door and focus on retaining and progressing talented people from all walks of life.”

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