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Pan-industry coalition launches to support freelancers

The TV industry has committed to address and improve freelance working practices with the formation of a coalition that will meet every three months.

Unveiling the coalition for change in a session at the online Edinburgh TV Festival today, TV Mindset founder and producer Adeel Amini said the “historic” document was a “fully-signed pledge” to lean into a culture change that will set out to agree common principles around mental health, recruitment and workplace culture. It also signals a commitment to end unpaid internships.

All four public service broadcasters have signed the pledge, along with Sky, STV and UKTV as well as industry bodies including Pact, Bectu and ScreenSkills.

Its launch follows to two webinars held amid the Covid pandemic, one with indies and one with broadcasters, which threw light on many of the challenges facing freelancers, with many falling through the cracks of government support schemes.

Amini said securing a pan-industry commitment was the only way to tackle the crisis affecting freelancers.

“People say the right things in webinars but there are so many roadblocks because a cross-industry standard doesn’t exist,” he said. “There’s a casualisation of this industry and we’re all responsible for perpetuating that. This is a chance to build the industry we want.”

Due to hold its first meeting next month, with a review set for a year’s time, the coalition’s agenda will include, but is not limited to:

Employment and recruitment practices

Health and safety

Workplace culture

Race and diversity

Bullying and harassment

Training and talent progression

New talent

Mental health and wellbeing

 

The pledge states:

“We believe every freelancer working in our industry deserves decent working and that we should all advocate a culture that promotes respect, professionalism and investment in people.”

“The best creative content will come from an industry that puts people first, celebrates difference and enables us all to thrive. Ours is an industry made up of a huge range of different companies, broadcasters and talented people, and we all have a role to play in shaping the way we work.”

Signing for the BBC, director of talent and resourcing Catherine Hearn said: “It’s important for broadcasters, indies and key stakeholders to come together to form an industry-wide response to support freelancers who are the lifeblood of our industry. We appreciate the past months have been incredibly tough for freelancers. We look forward to working cross-industry to find ways to be part of that change.”

Channel 4 head of factual Danny Horan, who took part in the broadcaster debate, added: “Our industry not just relies, but thrives on the creative spirit and minds of freelancers. We are nothing without them and whilst there is some extraordinary work - training, recruitment, workplace culture - happening in many quarters of the industry, we also recognise that’s not the reality for all. Adeel and the TV Mindset have done a fantastic job bringing the whole industry together and we are proud to be part of this coalition.”

Meanwhile, head of Bectu Philippa Childs said the pandemic has shown “no mercy” to freelancers.

Its effect has laid bare the challenges that freelancers have been dealing with for too long,” she said. “These conversations are an historic opportunity to reset and create a new deal for a part of the industry whose experience and wellbeing have been overlooked in the past. Bectu is committed to creating a framework for meaningful change and I would urge anyone working in TV to seriously consider joining to ensure your voice is heard.”

 

 

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