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Media CEOs pledge to help audiences navigate climate change

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Today the CEOs of the UK’s largest media brands, including STV, will gather at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow to issue a rallying cry to the global industry to do more and better climate story-telling on screen across all genres, as announced this morning by albert.

In an industry first, 12 broadcasters and streamers have signed up to The Climate Content Pledge1. The signatories - who represent over 70% of time UK audiences spend watching TV and film2 - are committing to using their content to help audiences understand what tackling climate change might mean for them, as well as inspire and inform sustainable choices.

At this morning’s panel, the CEOs of the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky and STV will tell industry executives that content must reflect the realities of climate change to remain relevant and to continue to appeal to audiences.

Recent polling from Ipsos MORI revealed that in August, climate change was the second-biggest concern in the UK – second only to COVID and higher than the economy, NHS or education3.

The CEOs will highlight how TV and film have a unique role in helping audiences understand the solutions to tackle climate change and the choices to consider on the path to Net Zero, adding that it is the industry’s responsibility to rise to that challenge.
 
​​The media has a proven track record in raising awareness of societal issues and inspiring action. From a 17% rise in calls to women’s refuges during Helen Archer’s domestic abuse storyline in The Archers4 to HIV test rates doubling after Channel 4’s It’s a Sin5; and from calls to mental health helplines rising sharply as a result of the Britain Get Talking campaign on ITV6,  to tackling drink driving with the concept of a ‘designated driver’ in Cheers7, and Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign inspiring 50 million people to reduce their usage of single-use plastics8, the broadcast industry has used its creativity to embed solutions in a way that can work for a broad audience. This pledge builds on that proud tradition. 

The Climate Content Pledge has been convened by albert, the screen industry organisation for environmental sustainability. For the past decade, albert has helped the production industry reduce environmental impacts and create content that helps audiences understand what a sustainable future might look like. Broadcasters, streamers and studios are already reducing the carbon emissions from production, and many are developing science-based Net Zero plans.

The panel assembled today, will outline how The Climate Content Pledge will build on the cross-industry collaboration facilitated by albert and the work that broadcasters have already been doing individually. They will discuss what it will take for the industry to help audiences navigate climate change, and explain what the Pledge means for them professionally.

The CEO panel takes place at BBC Scotland HQ today (3rd November) at 11am – 12pm UK time and will be streamed live via www.youtube.com/BAFTAGuru

STV CEO Simon Pitts said: “It’s now critical that audiences across the UK see on-screen how they can make small changes towards a more sustainable future. We broadcasters have powerful platforms with dedicated audiences who engage regularly with our content, so we are in prime position to put this pledge into action at both a national and regional level – and we take this responsibility very seriously.”
 
Notes to editors

For more information email: Genevieve Margrett – genevievem@bafta.org – Communications Manager, albert.

THE CLIMATE CONTENT PLEDGE
 
Climate change presents enormous challenges which will affect us all.
 
With the Paris Climate Agreement, nations all over the world have committed to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. To limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and avoid catastrophic runaway climate change, carbon emissions must be halved by 2030. The decisions that governments, businesses and individuals make now and over the next five years are crucial to setting a sustainable climate trajectory.  While the situation is urgent and grave, it is not without hope – every tonne of emissions avoided or removed can prevent further damage.
 
We, as members of the global screen industry, have a crucial responsibility to help our audiences engage with these challenges.
 
Therefore, we commit to the following principles:
  1. We will reach more of our audiences with content[1] that helps everyone understand and navigate the path to net zero, and inspires them to make greener choices.
  2. We will develop processes that help us to consider climate themes when we are commissioning, developing and producing content.
  3. We will ensure that our efforts are informed by the science.
  4. We will recognise the importance of fair and balanced representations of visions for a sustainable future.
  5. We will work together:
    1. learning from and inspiring each other
    2. sharing relevant industry and audience insights and developing relevant metrics
    3. improving how we measure our impact.
  6. We will communicate regularly with our colleagues, partners, and audiences so that we can all play our part in meeting this shared challenge.
These overarching principles are the foundation of our commitment – in addition, each of us will develop and publish our own “company-specific commitment”. We’ll revisit this every year, to review progress against our plans and challenge ourselves and each other to do more. We will continue to work together to support our shared ambitions, and we will share our progress publicly, holding ourselves and each other to account.
 
This pledge was developed by a group of media companies, facilitated by BAFTA albert. We encourage other media companies to adopt this pledge.

[1] For the purposes of this pledge, “content” is all programming with the exception of news.

1. The Climate Content Pledge signatories include: BBC, BBC Studios, Britbox International, Channel 4, Channel 5 / ViacomCBS, Discovery UK and Eire, ITV, RTE, S4C, Sky, STV, UKTV
2. According to the Ofcom Media Nations report, broadcaster channels, catch-up and subscription VOD consumption accounted for 272 minutes of viewing per UK adult per day in 2020. According to the BARB 2020 Viewing Report in 2020 the channel portfolios of the BBC, Channel 4, C5, Discovery, ITV, Sky and UKTV (key signatories of The Climate Content Pledge) accounted for 92% of live, recorded and broadcaster catch-up TV (199 minutes), which equates to 70% of all time spent with broadcaster and subscription content in the UK.
7. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/2017/02/01/jay-winsten-and-the-designated-driver-campaign/
8. Sky Ocean Research Tracker, September 2020 across UK, Italy, Germany (6000 respondents per market)