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PRESS RELEASE: New report highlights problems in the UK’s unscripted television industry

Post-pandemic research co-produced by Viva La PD into the UK’s television industry finds shocking management practices persist across the sector threatening the sustainability of the industry.

To read the report in full, click here:

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The report, authored by Bournemouth University experts, in collaboration with BECTU (The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union) and Viva La PD surveyed 1184 industry members to gain insights into areas such as working conditions, diversity, and skills.

While the report recognized the success and international reputation of the industry, it also highlighted a range of poor management practices in the industry, and the negative impact it had on those working in television.

Concurrent issues identified included skills shortages, especially within management and leadership roles, poor mental health outcomes within the workforce, and a lack of diversity in the industry, especially within key creative and decision-making roles.

Specifically these practices include poor retention of skilled workers, who were burned out by working conditions; inequitable recruitment, job insecurity and poor career prospects for under-represented groups; last-minute job bookings, cancellations and extended hours without breaks or compensation, leading to poor work-life balance; and at worst, accusations of workplace bullying and nepotism.

Dr Christa van Raalte, Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Media and Communications at Bournemouth University, co-authored the report. She said, “We were saddened to see the results that clearly showed management and recruitment practices that are not only unethical and damaging to individuals, but also damaging to the sustained commercial and creative success of the industry. It is our hope that this report will act as a catalyst for change within the industry as it moves to focus on wellbeing and positive representation.”

Richard Wallis, Principle Academic in the Department of Media Production, said, “We are calling on broadcasters and employers to review and reform their working practices and cultures, and for regulatory bodies to do more to support the industry, and its freelancers, to look after one another, to think more about diversity, and to address the skills gap that still exists, especially within senior positions.”

Recommendations from the report highlight the need for broadcasters to take responsibility for sustainable commissioning practices, allowing time and preparation for workers, and proper HR practices and wellbeing packages for all staff, including freelancers, to ensure mental health is being taken seriously. The report calls on industry bodies and representatives to play an active role in overseeing the changes and ensuring they are adopted as standard practice.

Dr van Raalte continued, “This report isn’t intended to shame the industry, and the UK should be incredibly proud of its internationally-recognised television output, however we hope that the issues highlighted in this report will lead to action to make improvements for those working in the industry, leading to better practices and underpinning wellbeing for all those who work tirelessly for the industry’s continued success.”

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