CBS has doubled down on its promise for diversity on and off camera, expanding the vow to reality shows as well.
All unscripted shows, beginning with the 2021-22 season will feature casts with at least 50% of the contestants being Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), the network announced Monday.
That includes shows like “Amazing Race,” “Big Brother,” “Love Island” and “Survivor.”
At least a quarter of the budget will also go to non-white creators and producers.
“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” George Cheeks, president and chief executive officer for the CBS Entertainment Group, said in a statement.
“As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our network.”
Over the summer, CBS announced behind-the-scenes requirements that 25% of its script development budget go to projects from BIPOC creators, writers and producers.
Writers rooms must also be staffed by 40% non-white employees during the 2021-22 season, then 50% for the 2022-23 season.
CBS also entered into a content partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in July with the goal of collaborating on scripted and unscripted projects that elevate diverse voices.
“In this moment of national awakening, the time has never been better to further tell stories of the African American experience,” Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said at the time.
“Programming and content have the power to shape perspectives and drive conversations around critical issues. This partnership with CBS allows us to bring compelling and important content to a broad audience.”
CBS has been singled out for its lack of diversity, particularly under former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves.
“Survivor” contestant J’Tia Hart launched a petition this summer calling on the CBS competition show to “reflect and honor the racial diversity of our society — both in front of and behind the camera.”
“‘Survivor’ has produced 40 successful seasons over 20 years by telling the stories of people who represent a wide array of human experience within the context of a game of social strategy, physical challenges, and survival. Representation matters,” Hart, who competed in “Survivor: Cagayan,” wrote in the public letter.
One of the most important ways we can embrace our diversity and evolve is to represent that diversity responsibly, equitably and fully. A commitment to the afore-mentioned actions would have a huge impact and move us toward a more fair, just, and equitable society.
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