Noel Clarke Scandal: ‘Cultural Issue’ Being Redressed, Says Sky Chief Zai Bennett

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The silence about Noel Clarke’s alleged misdemeanors was part of a “cultural issue,” something which is being actively redressed, says Zai Bennett, MD of content, Sky U.K. and Ireland.

As revealed by Variety, “Bulletproof,” starring Clarke, was canceled at Sky after multiple sexual misconduct allegations emerged about him. Clarke has vehemently denied all allegations.

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Speaking at an Edinburgh TV Festival discussion on Thursday, Bennett said, “We have a zero tolerance policy across all these areas as of course everyone does and should have. I think the thing that’s saddening and that we’ve been working on as an industry is that culturally there were absolutely procedures in place, and that people could complain. For quite a few years, we’ve had our Sky listeners number put on every call sheet on all of our scripted productions. But nobody caught it and nobody complained.”

The executive said that there was “a cultural issue” where crews thought that either nothing would happen after complaining, or there would be “retribution” for having done so. “And that’s unbelievably worrying and scary,” Bennett said.

“I think across the last three or four months there has been a great amount talked about this,” Bennett added. “And I think people are feeling more much more at ease and able to do that and understanding that people like me and people who run the services, people who commission agree, we will take this seriously. Now it’s the base of the forefront of what we’re thinking about. I think we have a pretty robust procedures in place already, but we reviewed them quickly and carefully and we added a few more new things to that.”

Bennett went on to explain the safeguarding policies Sky fine tuned in June.

The burning issue dominating the U.K. media landscape is the impending privatization of public service broadcaster Channel 4. Sky recently extended their long-term strategic partnership with the broadcaster.

“They are a great broadcaster, very important position in the in the ecosystem, and we’re really supportive of them,” said Bennett. His recommendation for Channel 4 is, “Keep making good stuff.”

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