Two new major talent initiatives are being supported by an investment of £500,000 in order to ensure that 10% of the production team working on the coverage of the 2016 Paralympics are disabled people. 

The commitment is a key element of Channel 4’s recently announced 360° Diversity Charter and is part of the production tender awarded to leading sports producer, Sunset+Vine.

The Rio Production Training Scheme and Rio Disabled Talent Fast-Track build on Channel 4’s legacy of investing in a ground breaking nationwide search for disabled on-screen talent for London 2012, as well as its track record in grassroots talent training schemes.

The Rio Production Training Scheme will offer 24 trainees with disabilities the opportunity to work in a variety of roles including: Junior AP, Production Co-ordinator or Technical Assistant for 12 months. As well as structured work experience, the trainees will receive specialist training facilitated by Channel 4 leading up to a final assessment that will see successful candidates hired by Sunset+Vine as part of the production team for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Industry Talent Specialist at Channel 4, Priscilla Baffour said: “We’re incredibly proud of the new and diverse talent we’ve fostered through 4Talent’s Production Training Scheme. The annual initiative encourages new voices and perspectives into the industry and provides opportunities for people across the UK who are passionate about kick-starting a career in the media.

This year we’re focused on developing a pipeline of disabled production staff who we hope will join the 130 scheme graduates who have gone on to build successful careers in the industry.”

In addition, later this year the Channel 4 Rio Disabled Talent Fast-Track will headhunt six disabled producers currently working in the industry, with a passion for sport, and further develop their production skills to enable them to fulfil key roles within Sunset+Vine’s Rio 2016 production team.

Channel 4 continues to build on its London 2012 Paralympic legacy for on screen disabled talent – taking the best of the 2012 disabled presenters and reporters to the next level, identifying at least two new disabled presenters and lead commentators, and providing training for all commentators on the most effective ways to explain both sports and disabilities to viewers.

Audience research carried out for Channel 4 around the 2012 Paralympics showed that two thirds of viewers felt the coverage of the Paralympics had a favourable impact on their perceptions towards disabled people and disabled sport. The response to the outcomes has been very positive indeed with 80% of viewers enjoying seeing disabled presenters on screen and 74% liking the matter of fact discussions about disability during Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympics.

Disability Executive at Channel 4, Alison Walsh, said: “Channel 4’s coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be fronted and produced by teams that include the brightest and best disabled talent. As they did in London, the presentation team in Rio will bring in-depth knowledge of Paralympic sport and experience of disability, live broadcast skills and a uniquely Channel 4 tone and attitude to the coverage.

They play a vital role in attracting and engaging the audience with unfamiliar sports, building on LEXI to explain the intricacies of Paralympic classification, getting under the skin of the superhuman athletes, entertaining and ultimately putting the nation at ease with disability.”