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Jamie Stratton, Production Manager, shares his thoughts with The Talent Manager on how undervalued and underpaid production management is in the TV industry. Here, in his own words, he asks for the TV industry's support:

TV FRIENDS: Many of you will have read Kimberly Godbolt’s article in Broadcast Magazine (21 June 2021). In light of this, I’m reaching out to TV colleagues past and present, hoping to make changes across the TV industry. For too long now, Production Secretaries, Production Coordinators, Junior PMs, Production Managers, Line Producers, Production Execs and Heads of Production have been vastly underpaid compared to their editorial counterparts.
Events over the last year have highlighted the importance of production management.  Last year, in the height of Covid, the TV industry would have ground to a halt had it not been for the production teams and quite frankly, our editorial counterparts would have been out of work.

There is SO much production work out there at the moment. In the last 2 months I have not applied for 1 single job, yet I have had 9 approaches/offers of work. WE ARE IN DEMAND.  There are more jobs than there are people, so let’s take advantage of that and work together for fair pay.  As a Production Manager, I spend a lot of my time battling with freelancers to get their ever-increasing rates down (always more than our budget allows) so maybe it’s time for us to start pushing back too.
I am coming up to my 10th year working in TV production. In those 10 years my rate has increased as I have climbed the ladder but not at the speed at which I have seen the rates of Producer/Directors, Series Producers and Editors increase. Why is this?  Are we worth less than them?

Editor rates seem to be rising year on year – why? – because there aren’t enough good Editors to go round, and Editors have (quite rightly) started demanding more money.  Why can’t we do the same?  
Why should a researcher be earning more than an experienced Production Coordinator? Why does an AP get paid more than an experienced JPM or even PM?  How is it that inexperienced PDs are getting paid more than experienced Production Managers? It’s not right.
Let’s face it, without a production management team the TV industry would not be able to function. Just like it wouldn’t be able to function without our editorial friends. WE ARE EQUALS, AND WE SHOULD BE PAID EQUALLY TOO.

So, to all my fellow production management teams at all levels - next time you renegotiate your contract at your staff job, push for more.  Ask WHY you aren’t being paid as much as the editorial staff.
If you are a Head of Production or Production Exec, maybe send off your next budget to the channel with higher rates for production management departments. I know how desperate smaller indies can be for commissions, so they often have little negotiating powers with the channels, but larger indies have no excuse.
Freelancers - next time you are offered a job, put your rate up.  Ask for more.  If they don’t give you what you deserve, have the courage to walk away, I appreciate not everyone can do this but there is so much other work out there for you.
If you work for a big company, group together with the other production management staff and work as a team to enforce change and get rates increased. Remember, they need you more than you need them.
Have confidence in your role and the importance your work brings to the industry.
The problem here is the broadcasters.  Not only are they allowing rates to remain low, but they are actively pushing back on any suggested rate increases in an effort to bring budgets down.  Why are they doing this?

I am proposing we write an open letter to all major UK broadcasters conveying our message and demanding change.  
Would my TV friends and colleagues be willing to sign and share this letter?  
Any help/suggestions people might have about the contents of this letter would be welcomed.  Please email me jamesfstratton@hotmail.co.uk if this is something you would like to be part of.
 
I also propose we work together in creating an industry wide rate card for all levels of production management across all genres.  There are similar things out there for more senior roles, but I think it would be good to have something for all levels.  I would love people’s views on this.
Finally, I also hope that our friends and colleagues in the editorial departments will support us too.  Please understand that this isn’t production management teams trying to take money from our colleagues but just us pushing to try and make things equal.

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