ViacomCBS expands BET’s Content for Change program across company

ViacomCBS has unveiled plans to expand its Content for Change program across its network portfolio. ViacomCBS net BET created Content for Change last year, as an initiative to break down hurtful ...
October 6, 2021

ViacomCBS has unveiled plans to expand its Content for Change program across its network portfolio.

ViacomCBS net BET created Content for Change last year, as an initiative to break down hurtful narratives that enable intolerance, harmful stereotypes and systemic racism to exist and grow. Content For Change incorporated news series such as Disrupt and Dismantle and specials including Black x Jewish and State of Our Union with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Now, the entire ViacomCBS organization is supporting and amplifying these efforts, while expanding the initiative’s focus to portray people of all races, genders, sexualities, faiths and abilities with humanity and depth. To begin, the initiative’s current areas of focus are on racial equity and mental health.

The Content for Change program will be grounded in data-driven research and centered on three commitments, said ViacomCBS president Bob Bakish┬áin an official statement announcing the program’s expansion.

The first commitment is to evolve and transform the kinds of stories ViacomCBS tells. ViacomCBS plans to expand its Annenberg Inclusion Initiative partnership with USC to analyze 60 series across key demographics like race and ethnicity, gender, age, LGBTQ+ identification and disability status, to identify representation gaps behind the camera and initiate new training. It’ll also partner with Stanford University to test hypotheses for how content can be used to shift perspectives.

ViacomCBS plans to identify key tenets to guide these advancements in its content by 2023.

The second commitment is in the creative supply chain, where ViacomCBS plans to transform its content creation process at every stage from talent to production to the writers’ room. The company announced it plans to use new early access, apprentice and mentorship programs to support an emerging generation of creators from underrepresented communities.

The company announced it will launch the Content for Change Academy, a program aiming to remove barriers to entry for new storytellers, build equity and invest in the next generation of leaders from non-traditional pathways, who are historically marginalized from entry into the entertainment industry. ViacomCBS announced it will partner with Reel Works and their MediaMKRS workforce development program.

The third and final commitment is in ViacomCBS’ culture, where it plans to target a global hire and promotion rate of 55% for female senior vice presidents and a U.S. hire and promotion rate of 40% for ethnically diverse vice presidents by the end of the year. The company also plans to scale MTVE’s culture code, brining the training’s emphasis on respect and mutual understanding to its entire creative community. And the company will require its creative partners to to be trained in ViacomCBS’ standards, holding them accountable for results.

“Together, our investments in these three pillars will help us marshal our resources and insights to write the next chapter of inclusive storytelling,” Bakish said in a statement.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.