BBC Radio will commit £12 million of its commissioning budget to diverse and inclusive content, it has been announced.
The money, which will come out of its existing budget, will be spent over three years on diverse stories and portrayals, diverse production teams and talent, and diverse-led companies.
It will cover new programming commissioned by network radio and BBC Sounds from 2021/22 and will be open to both in-house and independent production companies.
BBC Radio & Music has said it wants to be the best organisation in the audio sector to work with and for, with “an inclusive culture, diverse teams and representative programmes” and will ask suppliers in the independent sector to meet a 20% diversity target in their teams.
The BBC has said it will also create more opportunities for emerging, diverse audio talent with BBC Sounds Lab, which will launch in the autumn and give creators the support they need to turn their ideas into a podcast outside of the existing commissioning structure.
They will be given access to studios and equipment at the BBC, as well as technical support, and will be helped by an experienced executive producer, with some of the podcasts made available as commissions on BBC Sounds.
James Purnell, director BBC radio and education said: “Aided by these commitments, we will build a diverse, creative future for BBC Radio & Music, relevant to all our audiences.
“We’ll hear more diverse stories, voices and experiences on air, and open up the BBC and the whole industry for people to thrive in, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
“Last month we signed up to the Equality in Audio Pact, an initiative which kick-started a hugely important discussion in the industry, and today we are putting forward our commitments which we hope will add to the overall ambition of the audio sector to change and become more representative.”
June Sarpong, director of creative diversity, added: “I am proud that the BBC is accelerating the pace of change and boosting our commitment to diverse talent – with a specific focus on race, disability and class – ensuring that the creativity of some of our most under-represented communities is unleashed and included.
“Building on our creative diversity commitment for TV, these changes will make a huge difference to our radio and music teams, the wider audio industry, and what listeners can expect to hear on the BBC.”