Sky is concerned about not providing a fair representation of ethnic minorities in its programming. The television provider is currently setting out a series of measures in an effort to boost the numbers of black, Asian and other ethnic minorities on several of its networks. These include Sky 1, Sky Arts, Sky Living and its home for American drama Sky Atlantic.
The fears that minorities are not being fairly represented stem from figures that show how 10.7 million UK and Ireland subscribers to Sky are from ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, they are implementing measures to increase the number of minorities on-screen. They hope to raise the current number to at least 20 per cent.
However, it’s not just representation on-screen that Sky Television are worried about. It’s also the lack of off-screen talent working for the company. In response, it has committed to offer a 12 month placement for someone to work in its commissioning team. This will be part of the Creative Diversity Network’s Commissioning Leadership Programme.
The director of entertainment at Sky, Mr. Stuart Murphy, said:
Sky is dedicated to making programmes that feel representative of every one of the millions of viewers that watch our content every day, whatever their colour. So we have tackled the issue with the same sense of ambition that we show in all other areas of our business, setting ourselves a set of tangible goals that will hold us to account. Our aim is to kick start a sea change in the on screen representation of ethnic minorities on British television. It’s an incredibly exciting time, and I am very proud that Sky is going to be at the forefront.
Sky is one of the largest producers of entertainment programming in Europe. The company, which is partly controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his company 21st Century Fox, spends over $1 billion every year on producing comedy and drama shows. Some of the most popular include the Chris O’Dowd comedy Moone Boy and the Ruth Jones starring Stella.
The announcement that Sky will introduce a quota of at least 20 per cent of ethnic minorities follows a similar decision by the BBC to set a level of at least 15 per cent. Similarly, it comes after a scathing attack on the British entertainment media by actor and comedian Lenny Henry. He wrote about how actors from ethnic backgrounds have to leave the UK to achieve success such as Mandela’s Idris Elba and 12 Years A Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor.