Executives from leading production and distribution companies highlight the value of inclusion and representation in the content media landscape, where audiences seek content that speaks to their culture and experiences in a relatable way.


One of the biggest challenges that media brands face today is their diversity efforts. Many traditional and mainstream media companies have started to be more thoughtful about building cultural, racial, ethnic, and lifestyle diversity into their content. Building awareness and driving viewership of any new shows will require paying attention to inclusion and representation, both on and out of the screen.

Christian Vesper
President of Global Drama at Fremantle
“Inclusion and representation have become essential. The large American platforms have mandated it across projects, and we are finding more insistence upon it globally. Even without the mandates, it makes both creative and commercial sense. Talent, behind and in front of the camera, is what we all look for, and of course, inclusion is key in finding that talent.
“Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Gen Z, or Millennial audiences seek content that speaks to their culture and experiences in a relatable way. I think we all like to see something of ourselves reflected in the stories that are told, and for too long, those stories were rather narrowly prescribed, not necessarily intentionally, but still didn’t connect with everybody. Now the audience expects and deserves to see those.”
“I think there is a that reinforces the value of programming that helps to differentiate the broadcaster/streamer and attract more niche audiences. It is always tough to predict what audiences want and what constitutes a niche. I’m not sure that they want just a niche; better to have shown that they transcend to a big audience and are distinct and specific. As an industry, we still need to get out of old habits (hiring the same writers, crew, cast, etc.) and broaden our point of view. But it is key to the future to do so.”

Liz Soriano
Senior Vice President, International Programming, A+E Networks
“I do fully believe that consumers of content are looking for shows that will entertain them but also shows they can relate to who they are. Those of us that are in the global part of the entertainment business recognize that diversity means a broad set of identities. Diversity and inclusion are necessary to consider when you create content, and if you are a platform that plays content, then you have to make sure that is on your service or channel.”
“We have a corporate mission to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion is an aspect that runs around our entire business. When you look at some of our top shows that not only continue to do well on our linear networks but also have become popular on streaming platforms, you will find titles like ‘The Lincoln Lawyer,’ which came out of A+E Studios and completely represents a diverse cast. We also have several unscripted series like ‘The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch’ that also reflects diverse characters, which is authentic.”
“In response to the fact that global audiences seek these expanded narratives that represent the diversity of people from all over the world and their cultures, we are reflecting that in content that has risen in popularity and all different platforms. The biggest challenge is bringing creators and their work into the ecosystem. In other words, to support, empower and hire talent behind the camera for those shows. We have to stop looking into the regular places where we want the content to come from and how we want it to be produced, and we need to celebrate and support content creators that they themselves are diverse. Without those authentic voices behind, you cannot create an authentic, diverse program, series, or movie.”
“A+E is working to improve in the area of overall diversity, and something that we are trying to support, echo, and voice within the industry. For example, we are very proud that we were among the founders of the Mipcom Cannes Diversify TV Awards, a long-time celebration of diverse content.”

Karina Etchison
International Sales, Keshet International
“People want to see themselves on screen. That said, shows like ‘The A Word*,’ which was picked up by HBO Globosat in Latin America, and its spin-off ‘Ralph & Katie’ are not only successful because they feature a family dealing with autism or LGBTQi characters and actors with Downs’ Syndrome. They are loved because, at their heart, they are entertaining, relatable dramas that are joyfully uplifting to watch.”
“It is human nature to want to see ourselves on screen, and our lived experiences brought to life there too. As an industry, I believe we are responsible for representing all members of our society fairly and positively in both scripted and non-scripted shows. By doing this, we have the power to challenge preconceptions and change long-held stereotypes for the better. I’m excited about our upcoming period drama ‘Cuba Libre,’ the extraordinary biopic of Annie Silva Pais, a very progressive Portuguese woman who abandoned her family to follow her political beliefs and support the Cuban revolution, changing the course of many people’s lives along the way.”
“There are so many trends to support the value of diversity and inclusion. Whether it’s the proliferation of competitive reality shows focusing on particular skills or interests like make-up artists, glass-blowing, or dating formats featuring only LGBTQIAi contestants. However, plenty of shows have reached well beyond their original ‘niche’ target audiences (‘Squid Games,’ ‘Stockholm,’ and ‘Narcos’), which have all gone on to be enjoyed by massive mainstream audiences around the world.”
“At Keshet International, we love distributing local language content from all over the world. Our current slate has dramas from Portugal, Iceland, Israel, Sweden, and Japan. From our experience, the story comes first because great content knows no boundaries. Our Norwegian comedy-drama ‘Pørni’ was picked up across Latin America by HBO and is a great example of this.”

Alberto Fernández
Digital Content Director, RTVE
“The so-called ‘conquest of spaces’ has become one of the main demands for new audiences, and knowing how to deal with it properly is key for content generators and broadcasters. This process goes two ways: firstly, in having a faithful representation of the diversity in which young people live and coexist, who naturally accept realities that in another era would be conflictive. Secondly, in de-dramatizing these realities, looking at them face to face and connecting them with universal narratives that can make general public sympathize with.”
“The main revolution in content production in recent years is how these audiences have managed to subvert the semiotics of the stories we consume. To do this, you have to see the evolution of Disney, the great shaper of global values for children and adolescents. The way in which their shows deal with issues such as mental health, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, or even economic power relations has changed radically in the last ten years. Not only that, but diverse audiences also demand that they must be the protagonists of their stories, not a quota for minorities within a product that is aimed at all audiences.”
“The main challenge lies in the effect of the process I have described above: to prevent differentiation from ending in polarization. There is a risk that diverse content generates a dynamic of action-reaction between diverse and hegemonic audiences. In that sense, I believe that this process has a lot to do with the emergence of certain political discourses that take advantage of this environment to deepen division and confrontation. The production of diverse content should be a way to democratize our societies and improve dialogue and acceptance of others, which is why it is key that, while content is produced and developed from new points of view, the door is always left open to everyone.”

By Diego Alfagemez

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