As the film and TV landscape continue to shift in the wake of civic unrest and demand for social change, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and CBS Television are bolstering progress by entering a multi-year partnership to develop and produce scripted, unscripted and documentary content for linear television networks and streaming platforms.
The announcement of the agreement was made today by George Cheeks, President and CEO of the CBS Entertainment Group, and Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. Under the agreement, CBS Television Studios’ creative leaders will work with the NAACP to establish a dedicated team of executives and infrastructure to acquire, develop and produce programming. The partnership will focus on producing premium content that expands the number of diverse voices contributing to an ever-evolving society, and by telling inclusive stories that increase the visibility and impact of Black artists in a growing media landscape.
“An important way to diversify and grow our storytelling is to expand our horizons beyond the traditional studio-producer system,” said Cheeks. “There is no better partner than the NAACP – the preeminent civil rights organization in our country – to help us find, develop and tell these inclusive stories. “At the same time, this is a strategic opportunity for CBS to build upon as well as re-imagine our pipeline for existing and emerging creative talent.”
“In this moment of national awakening, the time has never been better to further tell stories of the African American experience,” said Johnson. “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.”
The partnership between CBS and NAACP includes a commitment to develop content for the CBS Television Network as well as the ability to sell programming to third-party platforms across the media landscape.
With this news, CBS continues to forge ahead and possibly lead the charge in an entertainment landscape that is demanding change and inclusivity. On Monday, the network announced that they are committing 25% of its script development budget to projects from creators, writers and producers who are Black, Indigenous and people of color. The initiative is set to kick off with the 2021/22 development season. In addition, it is also mandating that writers’ rooms for CBS shows must be staffed with a minimum of 40% BIPOC representation for the 2021/22 broadcast season. This will be increased to 50% for the 2022/23 season.
On top of that, ViacomCBS merged the diversity and inclusion teams from Viacom and CBS to form a singular D&I team. Marva Smalls, ViacomCBS’ Global Head of Inclusion, also created a team of leaders to work with her to help move the needle when it comes to diversity and inclusion at ViacomCBS and foster initiatives that help promote representation.