Sky’s the limit at The Bigger PictureSeptember 2013
Daniella Vega is head of responsibility at BSkyB’s CSR department, aka The Bigger Picture, and is also this year’s recipient of 2Degree’s Sustainability Champion of the Year award.
Q Were you surprised to win the 2Degrees accolade?
A Yes! Someone suggested I enter and I was amazed when I was shortlisted because I think the majority of members of 2Degrees come from a more traditional sustainability background.
Q What’s your background?
A I’ve worked at BSkyB for 10 years joining as head of CSR and prior to that I was at Channel 4 working in its programme information department as part of its Public Service Broadcasting unit. However, I started out as a wildlife documentary maker.
Q How wide is your remit at BSkyB?
A I look at sustainability across the business and the key areas of materiality: Sky as a responsible business from the sustainability of our set top boxes to online safety (because we are supplier of broadband) and to the diversity of our content.
Q 2Degrees highlighted the success of the Sky Skills Studios programme. Tell us more about it.
A Sky Skills Studio is for young people and it’s about building life skills. Aimed at 8-18 year olds and focused on Key Stages 2, 3 and 4 of the curriculum, it’s a half day experience for 30 children who come into Sky and learn how programmes are made. They have a tour of the Sky studios and we base the visit on ‘make, shape and share’ so that they leave with a really broad view of TV production.
The Sky Skills Studio was made for young people and uses the latest technologies, such as drag and drop edit boards. There are four separate studios where they make their programmes. Prior to the visit, they’ll pick a topic in the classroom – there are 42 topics mapped to the curriculum (based on citizenship, maths and English), such as The Rubbish Equation (an environmental theme). Then they’ll write, shoot and edit their own piece. They take their finished news report home with them on a USB wristband. We are very transparent about the creation of our social impact programme. Return on investment is key. It is brand building and allows customers to look at the brand in a different way.
Q How long has the programme been running?
A We launched last September, so we’re just coming up to our first full year. A lot of time was spent in its development and we see this as a long-term capital investment. Within a month of its launch, we were booked out for the entire academic year. We’ve now revised our booking system as a result and do it on a termly basis.
Q How many schools have taken part so far?
A 200 – and we’re well on track to meet our target of 12,000 young people in Year 1. [At the time of the interview the total was already 11,500.]
Q Isn’t the geographical reach of the project limited?
A We do only have the one studio site in West London but we did research how far teachers were willing to travel for such a project. It’s not just a fun day out. It has to have real social impact. And we discovered up to 2 hours was considered ok. We’ve also had schools from as far away as Birmingham and Scotland take part.We’re always looking at options though. We could go mobile with it, but that would change it and we don’t want to dilute the experience. Potentially we have studios in Scotland and Ireland so there are possibilities there too.
Q How do you measure the success of the social impact?
A Young people’s life skills scores are assessed before and after the programme where teachers rate them out of five. Teachers also rate them three months later. We find that gives tangible results and that they are sustained. We have found consistent rises in students’ life skills so they’re becoming more confident and gaining better team work and communication scores. Their knowledge of the range of jobs within media is also significantly higher.
Q Where do you go from here?
A At the end of Year 1, we’ll look at the whole process and see where and how we can improve. We have a strong presence in education and need to shout about it more and as a media company we certainly have the capacity to do that! I am hoping to look at some on air communication.
Q How advanced is sustainability as an issue in broadcasting generally?
A At Sky, we think about it as being core to the business. We feel we have a role to play in creating a sustainable future and I think that’s what differentiates Sky and our leadership from other broadcasters.
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