People working in the UK television industry are twice as likely to have attended a private school than other workers, regulator Ofcom has claimed.
Its most recent diversity report includes statistics on social mobility for the first time. It found that 60% of employees came from families with parents in a professional occupation, compared with 33% of the working population.
Just 26% came from working-class backgrounds, compared with a national average of 38%.
According to Ofcom’s 2018/19 report, 14% of TV’s UK-based workers were educated at an independent school. Among the wider population, this figure is 7%.
At the BBC, 14% of staff were privately educated, a percentage that is slightly higher (16%) at Viacom, which owns Channel 5. Channel 4, ITV and Sky did not provide figures.
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said the figures around social and economic background showed “there is much work to do in attracting the best talent from across society, including those with fewer advantages and opportunities”.
It is the third year in which Ofcom has published a monitoring report about diversity in TV. The figures for 2018/19 indicate that efforts to improve representation around factors such as disability and gender have “stalled”, White said.
The proportion of female employees among the major broadcasters has dipped from 46% to 45% between 2017/18 and 2018/19, while staff with a disability has remained at 6%, well below the UK working population (18%).
Employees from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds has also remained the same year-on-year – at 13%. However, the report says this is higher than in the UK as a whole (12%).
Ofcom said in the report: “Last year, we said there is still more work to do in the industry. Now we believe the time has come for a transformation in how this should be done. We recommend a renewed focus and scrutiny on those measures that are proving insufficient in increasing representation in line with targets and UK workforce representation.”
Among its recommendations are calls for the industry to focus more on narrowing inequality around social mobility, as well as demonstrating material improvements to disabled representation through targeted recruitment and career programmes.
It also demands the industry be more committed to monitoring representation, arguing that a “baseline of accountability and transparency is pivotal to the work that is required” and that figures are undermined by an increase in “undisclosed” data.
“As long as data gaps exist, broadcasters will lack an accurate picture of the make-up of their workforce or any under-representation,” the report said.