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Press Release: State of Play Survey Preliminary Report

Major survey of TV freelancers finds poor management and recruitment practises are rife, leaving many regretting their career choice

Bectu, Bournemouth University and Viva La PD have today published an interim report on management and recruitment practises in Unscripted TV.

Nearly 1,200 people were surveyed for the report, giving a wealth of quantitative and qualitative information on the reality of working in the industry.

A shocking 68% of respondents have considered leaving for an alternative career in the last year, with 55% already considering such a move before the onset of Covid-19.

Over 93% of respondents have experienced bullying or harassment in the TV industry, with only 11% who reported incidents considering that the matter was satisfactorily resolved.

These findings are not surprising when considering that a staggering 70% of respondents with management responsibilities said they had not received adequate training in the practical and legal aspects of managing people.

The picture does not improve when looking at recruitment practises, with 73% of respondents feeling that recruitment practices in TV are unfair.

Looking at how to make improvements, 80% of respondents would like to see an agreement in place that set out minimum standards on overtime rates, hours, pay, health and safety conditions and welfare for freelancers working in unscripted TV.

For more statistics and comments from the survey, please download the Interim Report here.

Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu said:

“The extent of bullying and harassment revealed by this survey should cause broadcasters and production companies to start seriously addressing workplace culture in the industry.

“Dignity at work should be a basic expectation for everyone working in the industry and it is clear from this interim report that there is much to do.

“With 80% of respondents wanting to see an agreement on minimum standards in place for freelancers working in unscripted TV, Bectu will be seeking a discussion with Pact and others about creating a fair deal for freelancers in the industry.”

James Taylor, Chair of the Bectu Unscripted: Development, Editorial and Production branch and Viva La PD Spokesperson, said:

“We are only in the early days of the analysis of this survey, and already the level of feeling in the television workforce is clear to see.

“More than a third of respondents would not pursue the same career knowing what they know now. Almost all have been victims of or have witnessed bullying/harassment in the workplace. Way over half want to leave the industry because of the way they are treated.

“Working as a freelancer is tough, often compared to the “Wild West”, whether that be in reference to recruitment practices or management of productions. The positive thing in all this is that there is a mandate for progressive change.

“If the industry does not update its practices, I honestly believe we’ll lose the talent and experience that goes into making the nation’s favourite TV shows.”


  • Viva La PD is an independent peer-to-peer community group for Television Producer / Directors, with over 1300 members.

  • Since the pandemic hit in Spring 2020, Viva La PD has been campaigning for improvement of conditions for all television freelancers from both industry stakeholders and government.

  • For the State of Play Survey, Viva La PD worked closely with Bournemouth University's Faculty of Media and Communication. They administered the survey and analysed the results, producing the preliminary report.

  • The final report, fully analysing all the results will be published in Spring 2021.

  • In June 2020, Viva La PD published key findings from a follow-up survey of nearly 2000 freelance professionals in the TV industry “TV Freelancers: Six Lost Months”. The survey found over half of TV freelancers are ineligible to government support schemes, and face losing half a year of income.

  • In April 2020, Viva La PD published a report “Freelancers: Fighting For Survival” based on a survey of almost 1000 TV professionals, to produce an up-to-date assessment of Covid-19's impact on the freelance television workforce. It found that fewer than 1 in 5 freelancers were working during lockdown.


James Taylor, Viva La PD Co-Administrator / spokesperson is available for contact.


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