Screen industry trade union, Bectu, has released its findings from a new survey of  TV industry freelancers that shows 93% have experienced bullying or harassment at work.

The survey, run in conjunction with Bournemouth University and Viva La PD, is focused on management and recruitment practises in Unscripted TV.

Nearly 1,200 people responded to the State of Play survey.

It found that 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.

70% of respondents with management responsibilities said they had not received adequate training in the practical and legal aspects of managing people.

73% of respondents felt 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.

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.”

The interim report can be found here

Jon Creamer