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Understanding the impact of content

TVBEurope hears from the organisers of a new taskforce and event looking at the social and cultural impact of content

A new taskforce has been established that will attempt to understand the social and cultural impact of content, whether that be TV, film, music, podcasts or gaming.

Established by OKRE, an organisation that brings together expertise in the entertainment industries and research sector, the taskforce counts Netflix, Prime Video, the BBC, Sky, ITV, and the Walt Disney Company among its members.

“One of OKRE’s particular areas of focus is on how content and entertainment shape viewers’ perceptions,” explains the organisation’s director Iain Dodgeon, “because perceptions play such a big role in shaping how we understand things and how we act based on that information.

“We’re interested in how things are conveyed in content and how people then receive that and how they understand other people, professions, communities of different types, issues and so forth. In doing that, we can also stimulate and help creatives think of fresh approaches, which makes more compelling, exciting content.”

Iain Dodgeon

Many programmes contain some kind of subtle messaging – whether it’s Ken Barlow doing the recycling in Coronation Street, or a David Attenborough documentary on the Green Planet. “That’s where we’re really interested in seeing the impact on people and the choices that they make, their outlook and perspectives. So we’ll be looking at lots of different ways that might happen through talking to different creators.”

As well as looking at the impact of content, the taskforce will endeavour to discover how that impact can be measured, and thus help it grow. “The members are very much coming together to share best practice and learnings and hopefully progress in terms of not just understanding what impact we’re having, but also how to therefore build on it,” explains Aradhna Tayal, director of the OKRE Summit, which takes place on 15th June in London.

“I think it’s important to note that these sorts of changes and ways of working aren’t going to change overnight,” she adds. “We very much see both the Summit and the work of the taskforce as an ongoing year round activity. The Summit event each June will be a kind of stopping point to come and assess what we’ve achieved, and ask what are the next priorities?

Aradhna Tayal

“For the OKRE Summit 2022, we do have some priority areas of focus. Climate change is one of them, the others are health, especially mental health, migration and poverty. Those four areas really chime with the organisations that we’ve been speaking to across the entertainment industry and their priorities, as well as across the charity sector as well. We’re very keen to make sure that we keep evolving and stay relevant and looking at what the priorities are going forward.”

Tayal adds that she believes an important aspect of the Summit will be that future-focus, looking at what the big content companies have coming up so that they can look at ways of working together. “I don’t want this to just be a talking shop, everyone is very keen to see action and to see progress in this area,” she states. “So it’ll be about people genuinely coming and being open and saying this is what we’ve done so far, here’s some measurement that we did, this is what didn’t work, here are some assumptions that we had to make.”

That will hopefully lead to content creators and broadcasters becoming more aware of not just the impact of their programming, but also the messaging included. “Entertainment content really engages with people when it’s representing them,” explains Tayal. “It’s reflecting the society they know, and it’s challenging them, it’s making them think. And so, by thinking about the impact that you’re having, you can also avoid potential pitfalls where you perpetuate harmful stereotypes, for example.”

More details about the OKRE Summit are available here.