by Thinus Ferreira
ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) on Tuesday announced that it is adopting a new "no diversity, no commission" policy, demanding that "all new international productions be made by a diverse team" in order for a production company to be commissioned.
Through the new policy that will be applicable across 5 continents and more than 180 countries where VCNI operates, including South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, ViacomCBS Networks International wants to "promote diversity, equity and inclusion".
Several of ViacomCBS' pay-TV channels are carried and seen throughout the African continent on the platforms of pay-TV services like MultiChoice's DStv.
According to the policy change, production companies who want to do business with ViacomCBS Networks International will have to "adhere to diversity guidelines before budgets are signed off and productions are approved to begin".
"When budgets are agreed, the commissioner or project lead will check for appropriate diversity and recommend improvements, as needed." Besides on-screen talent diversity, diversity behind-the-scenes will also be very important "to ensure that a variety of balanced, diverse voices are involved in all areas of production"
David Lynn, CEO and president of VCNI, in a statement, says that "Expanding 'no diversity, no commission' to our entire international organisation is an important strategic move for ViacomCBS Networks International".
"ViacomCBS Networks International creates and distributes content to audiences all over the world. This approach will ensure that we are both reflecting our audience, as well as elevating new diverse creative voices."
"Change requires thorough research, careful planning, and immense care, and we're looking forward to creating impactful, sustainable change through the power of our networks, partnerships, platforms and brands."
Jules Borkent, executive vice president for VCNI Kids & Family, says "Audiences around the world, particularly younger generations and kids, are becoming more and more diverse in composition, outlook and perspectives, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that our content reflects the world in which our audiences live".
"Our research tells us very clearly, that kids want to see themselves reflected on-screen."
Kerry Taylor, executive vice president for VCNI Youth & Entertainment, says "Diversity, inclusion and equity need to be at the heart of everything we do within our brands and our business".
"We are committed to doing better, to making progress in this area, and using our platforms to shine a light on the talent, voices and stories that need to be seen and heard."