ITV’s chief executive has said there is “no question” that more allegations will be made about inappropriate behaviour towards women and abuse of power, in the entertainment industry and beyond.
Dame Carolyn McCall addressed the issue at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention, after bosses for Channel 4 and the BBC were questioned about the Russell Brand allegations – which he vehemently denies – during the previous day.
While Brand did not work for ITV, the broadcaster hit the headlines earlier this year as Phillip Schofield left This Morning following an affair with a younger colleague – and a review of the events leading up to his departure is due to be completed by the end of September.
Speaking in front of TV executives and other industry staff, Dame Carolyn said that allegations of abuse of power and inappropriate behaviour are “a really serious issue”.
She continued: “I think there are two things: some are historic, some are current. And then there will be more emerging. No question. It won’t be just our industry, it will be much wider than that, in society.
“But I think that the one thing to know for sure is that every single broadcaster will take it very, very seriously. I mean, no one wants this to happen. No one. You know, it’s appalling, some of the things that have emerged. I would also say that duty of care has improved significantly.”
ITV invests a “huge amount of time, resource and thinking” into improving and evolving duty of care, the TV boss continued, adding that the process has “changed dramatically since social media went exponential – because of trolling, because of information coming out very quickly, because of misinformation coming out very quickly”
Broadcasters all take the issue “incredibly seriously”, Dame Carolyn told the audience, saying that anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong.
“We don’t want this to continue,” she said. “So, the next thing is not just duty of care, it’s also how do you ensure that people speak up? How do you ensure that they don’t feel intimidated?
“We’re all working on it. We’re all trying to avoid this happening in the future. We’re also trying to set up processes and systems that can deal with this when it emerges from the past.”
The industry needs “strong leaders, managers who will say, ‘that’s not appropriate’, or, ‘we’ve had complaints and this is what we’re going to do about it’,” she added.
The allegations against Russell Brand
Four women have accused Brand of sexual abuse between 2006 and 2013, as part of an investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches.
Some of the claims date back to when the comedian was presenting the Big Brother spin-off programme Big Brother’s Big Mouth on Channel 4, and when he worked for BBC Radio 2.
Several speakers at the TV event in Cambridge addressed the allegations during their time on stage, with Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon saying it was clear that “terrible behaviour towards women was historically tolerated” in the TV industry, and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer urging industry leaders to “lead change if change is needed”.
Brand, who denies the allegations, said in a video posted online on Friday night that all his relationships have been “consensual”.
The Metropolitan Police said it received an allegation of sexual assault against Russell Brand dating back to 2003 following the publication of the claims.
On Tuesday, the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie announced a review into Brand’s time at the corporation.