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Channel 4 launches Year of Disability in 2016

Channel 4 today announced that 2016, the year of the Paralympic Games in Rio, will be the broadcaster’s Year of Disability.

Announced one year on from the launch of Channel 4’s 360° Diversity Charter, the Year of Disability includes major new commitments to increase representation of disabled people within the broadcasting industry – both on and off-screen.

This will include doubling the number of disabled people appearing in 20 of Channel 4’s biggest shows – with disabled contributors contributing to hit programmes such as Gogglebox, The Island, Grand Designs, Hollyoaks, and First Dates.

£300,000 will be invested in new talent initiatives, with an off-screen commitment to progress the careers of 20 disabled people already working in the industry in Channel 4’s 20 biggest suppliers. And, within Channel 4, 50 per cent of all the broadcaster’s apprenticeships and 30 per cent of all its work experience placements will be ring fenced for disabled people.

The particular focus on disability in 2016 is in addition to the ongoing 30 initiatives outlined in Channel 4’s 360° Diversity Charter. The Charter puts a commitment to diversity at the heart of all activities at Channel 4, and encompasses all under-represented groups – including BAME, LGBT, disability, gender and social mobility. In 2017 Channel 4 will focus on a different diversity theme.

Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham said: “When we launched the 360° Diversity Charter last year we set ourselves challenging targets across every level of the organisation and I’m incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made, though there remains more we must do. I hope that with the launch of 2016 as our Year of Disability we can extend the impact of this Paralympic year right across our schedule and help do something lasting to increase representation of disabled people on, and off-screen.”

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP said: "The lack of diversity on and behind our screens is truly shocking. I am pleased the industry is at last beginning to address this, and it's good that Channel 4 is keeping this issue prominently on the agenda. But this is only the beginning. No one can assume the job is done or even half done. We have a long way to go and I will continue to engage with broadcasters on this issue."

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson MP said: “Channel 4 programming has set the standard for disabled representation both on and off screen. By partnering with charities to raise awareness of specific issues and presenting believable disabled characters they have made a real difference. The ambitious goals in the 360 Degree Charter Report will enable them to build on this fantastic work.

“However, there is still a long way to go if we want television to truly reflect the situation of disabled people in Britain today. I am delighted that Channel 4 have made this Paralympic year their Year of Disability and would challenge the rest of the industry to follow their lead.”

The updated 360° Diversity Charter published today revealed that over 2015 Channel 4 had completely achieved 24 of the 30 targets it set itself a year ago. Six targets set out in today’s updated Charter were classified as amber for various reasons, mostly delays to projects.

The considerable progress against many of the targets included:

  • 85% of Channel 4 commissions now meet the Commissioning Diversity Guidelines, up from 67% pre-Charter.
  • Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund has committed £1.6m to production companies with a significant BAME shareholding – Voltage TV, Renowned and Whisper Films.
  • As part of the Rio Commitments, 23 people with disabilities are now working in 17 independent production companies and training for roles within the Rio Paralympics production team.
  • Channel 4 is on-track to meet its 2020 in-house employee diversity targets
  • As part of the commitment to increase diversity of talent at a commissioning level, three deputy commissioning editors were appointed to work in Factual, Drama and Sport.
  • 1,275 young people were engaged in grassroots activities as part of the 4Talent Grassroots Social Mobility Drive

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