Minority ethnic led (MEL) UKindependent production companies face particular barriers to success in thefilm and television sector. This is the finding of new research conducted bythe Institute for Employment Studies (IES) for Pact and the UK Film Council.

The study found the mostsignificant barriers for such companies included the initial process ofbreaking into the sector; the commissioning process; and a lack of networks toallow access to key members of the industry, business advice and support.

IES provided bothqualitative and quantitative data. This included interviews with industryexperts and individuals representing both the TV and film sectors as a whole,and case studies with a number of minority ethnic led production companies todiscuss their key areas of success and the barriers experienced. A number ofrecommendations for change have also been made.

A MEL company is defined asone in which the majority of decision-making power resides with an individualor individuals who consider themselves to belong to a minority ethnic group.

The study provides asnapshot of company performance, and for the first time, maps the independentsector in terms of success and barriers to success.

Difficulties experiencedwhen attempting to break into the sectors include the lack of opportunities forgaining paid experience in large organisations, the fact that career pathprogression is ad-hoc and the lack of role models. Building a positivereputation and track record appears to affect MEL companies to a greater extentas they are often saddled with outdated and negative stereotypes. Based onavailable data, IES estimates that MEL companies make up, at most, 10% of theindependent production sector.

Additional barriers for MELcompanies compared with white led companies result from direct discrimination,ghettoisation and pigeon-holing. Findings suggest MEL companies are oftenexpected to produce programmes or films for minority ethnic audiences orinvolving minority ethnic actors and writers and so find it difficult toreceive commissions for more mainstream productions.

The research recommends anumber of positive actions for policy bodies and key organisations including:

- the provision of general support for careers, training, andbusiness advice, and explore targeted support;

- encouraging the further development of networks, by policybodies and key organisations both individually and collectively, to improvecommunication within and between the TV and film sectors;

- tackling risk-averse attitudes of those incommissioning/funding;

- improving and opening up the commissioning process to create agreater meritocracy; and

- monitoring the range of companies securing commissions and fundsto evaluate trends over time.

Pact and the UK Film Councilwill be working with Ofcom and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport(DCMS) and organisations such as the Cultural Diversity Network to encouragethe industry to feed these findings into current and future work tacklingissues of diversity.