CBS has plan to boost its diversity

THE BALTIMORE SUN

At a time when the major broadcast networks continue to draw criticism for an overall lack of diversity on both sides of the camera, CBS has unveiled a program to identify and develop diversity within the writing and directing community.

The CBS Diversity Institute, announced Wednesday, combines mentoring programs for new writers and directors with existing talent showcases for minority performers.

"[The institute] will offer participants the kind of access, experience and mentoring [they] cannot have otherwise received," said Josie Thomas, CBS' senior vice president of diversity.

CBS had been slammed last summer by the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, which charged that the network had been a widespread failure at increasing the presence of minorities in television. CBS vigorously disputed the coalition's findings.

Meanwhile, a report released in June by the Directors Guild of America showed that ethnic minorities and women were woefully underrepresented in the directorial ranks of the top 40 prime-time programs last season.

The CBS Directing Initiative is designed to foster interaction on the set and networking opportunities for aspiring minority directors. The Writers Mentoring Program matches up to 20 writers with network executives, and includes interaction with network show-runners and agents.

Les Moonves, chairman and CEO of the network, called the establishment of the institute "an important step forward" in an effort to develop talent to match the diversity of the networks' viewers."

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