OTT.X Promoting Diversity, Equality and Inclusion With Upcoming Webinars, Other Initiatives

The nonprofit industry association OTT.X has created a Call for Change group and has slated two webinars in September as part of an ongoing initiative to promote diversity, equality and inclusion in the OTT industry.

The upcoming webinars are “Inherent Bias in AI/Machine Learning,” presented by Slalom, and “A Look at How Representation Drives Viewership,” presented by Samba.

On Feb. 18, OTT.X hosted an online dialogue about social justice, racism exclusion and allyship within the industry. The objectives of the initial session were to identify the changes the industry can make today and those it can work toward impacting in the future. Participants defined these issues and opportunities:

a) The industry and the consumer will benefit from more diverse participation. Minority-owned businesses, and socially messaged content, can benefit from financing opportunities and distribution exposure.

b) Management ranks and senior leadership positions in the industry seem to be under-representative of the diversity of the population.

c) The industry has a unique opportunity to communicate to, and impact, the general public by the nature of its business.

“OTT.X recognizes that it can effectively do its part and impact and affect change within the OTT community of companies and individuals, such as within our industry’s workforce,” said OTT.X president and CEO Mark Fisher. “We can help by supporting the growth of minority-owned businesses and by holding our community accountable for its commitments regarding diversity, equality and inclusion.”

Industry executives across small and large companies and of diverse ethnicities are currently participating in OTT.X Call for Change.

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In November 2020, OTT.X conducted its first special webinar on inclusion, “A Path Toward Inclusion in the Workplace.”

In March, OTT.X invited its members to an online table reading of Polar Bears, Black Boys and Prairie Fringed Orchids, a play about environmental justice and police violence written by former OTT.X team member Vincent Durham, followed by a Zoom discussion among viewers with Durham.

OTT.X is also coordinating the development of a database of potential conference speakers and panelists from under-represented groups in the OTT ecosystem. OTT.X will utilize this list to ensure that it sets the example of diversity and inclusion with the speaker rosters at its own conferences and events, and will also make this list available to other organizations and conference operators.

Future projects being discussed include assisting minority companies in finding funding, connecting content creators with interested parties to create socially relevant content, working alongside a research partner to create an industry accountability report (examining follow-through related to commitments companies made after the George Floyd murder), and providing public service spots to run on AVOD channels in unsold slots.

Participation in the OTT.X Call for Change is not limited to OTT.X members.  All members of the OTT community are invited to engage. To learn more or get involved, email Fisher at mfisher@ottx.org.

Comcast Pledges $100 Million to Fight Racism, Advance Social Justice

Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts June 8 issued a letter decrying the civil unrest rocking the country since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

Roberts said Comcast would pledge $100 million to fight for social justice and equality, which includes $75 million cash and $25 million in media spending.

“We know that Comcast alone can’t remedy this complex issue,” Roberts wrote. “But you have my commitment that our company will try to play an integral role in driving lasting reform. Together, we hope to help create a more equitable, just and inclusive society.”

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Specifically, Roberts said the media giant would partner with, and provide significant grants to, organizations working to eradicate injustice and inequity. Organizations will include but not be limited to: the National Urban League, the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Action Network and the Community Justice Action Fund.

Roberts said Comcast would put the “full weight” of its media resources behind highlighting black voices and black stories and educating viewers on diverse and inclusive cultures, perspectives and experiences, by making anti-racism education and inequality awareness a priority.

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“We will use our platforms across the organization to continue to shed light on societal issues related to race,” Roberts wrote. “NBC News will host a series of Town Halls, similar to their ‘Can You Hear Us Now’ special that aired this past Tuesday, and we will use the X1, Flex, Peacock and Sky platforms to promote and amplify multicultural content.”

SAG-AFTRA Approves Historic Deal with Netflix

Netflix is one of the world’s largest producers of movies and TV shows. As a subscription streaming video distributor, how the service’s productions fit into the traditional Hollywood labor equation sometimes left more questions than answers.

Now, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing film and television actors, journalists, radio personalities, recording artists, singers, voice actors and other media professionals, has approved a contract with Netflix covering all live-action productions.

The first-of-its-kind deal between the union and SVOD pioneer recognizes “motion capture” technology as covered work and includes coverage of dubbing, which applies to Netflix’s foreign-language live-action and animated motion pictures dubbed into English.

“Netflix recognizes the value of working with SAG-AFTRA members, and the contributions we make in this global industry,” Gabrielle Carteris, SAG-AFTRA president, said in a statement. “I am gratified that this groundbreaking deal achieved longstanding member goals in particular the recognition of performance capture work, and other important improvements that members want and deserve.”

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Netflix, which has operated under the union’s standard labor agreement, also follows its own “Respect at Netflix” work program that put an emphasis on gender, race and sexual orientation equality in the workplace and on movie and TV show productions.

The new agreement with SAG-AFTRA sets minimum salary and turnaround provisions to all Netflix programs; concessions for consecutive employment for guest stars and day performers employed on episodic series; how to pay residuals for movies produced under the union’s theatrical contract that are exhibited on Netflix.

In addition, stunt performers will no longer have adjustments made in determining eligibility for overtime for episodic productions. The deal also puts new limitations on advancing pay residuals.

“We are pleased that we were able to work with SAG-AFTRA to address these issues unique to Netflix’s production needs and we commend SAG-AFTRA leadership for its creative approach,” added Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.