A survey released today by Production Is Broken, an anonymous group set up by editorial and production management freelancers in unscripted TV, shows high levels of dissatisfaction among production management workers.

The survey was responded to by almost 1000 UK TV production management staff and freelancers in unscripted, following ‘negative reaction’ to the recent “Behind Every BAFTA” campaign that didn’t include production management in the list of behind the scenes jobs that go into making Bafta-winning content.

The report highlights high levels of job dissatisfaction as 84.3% of respondents had either left Production Management or considered leaving the department.

Production is Broken says there has been a “growing level of uneasiness smouldering away in the background of UK TV production for over a decade”, over issues including “pay inequality, working conditions, departmental welfare, skills shortages and increasing workloads have failed to be given due attention by broadcasters, production companies and industry bodies alike.”

938 Production Management professionals submitted responses. Respondents from all levels of seniority, ranging from Managing Directors through to Production Secretaries. “All were united in their frustrating recollections of broadcasters and production companies alike cutting Production Management resources to the detriment of the industry as a whole.”

The report goes on to look at what can be done to address pay parity with editorial colleagues, what initiatives the industry can offer to help Production Management welfare and how industry bodies such as BAFTA, The Royal Television Society and Edinburgh Television Festival can improve exposure of the department to new talent. It also raises questions about whether budgets are considering accurately the increases to workload, caused by additional protocols and procedures introduced in recent years.

The report says that the most common complaint by the survey’s respondents was that the issues experienced in Production Management are “exacerbated by Senior Management at production companies, at the broadcasters and furthermore inherited by leading industry bodies that fail to give Production Management careers enough promotion or achievements enough recognition.”

Respondents also said that funding for Production Management roles and resources are regularly squeezed to an operational minimum within programme budgets. Production companies opting to ‘sacrifice Production Secretaries from budgets in favour of additional Researchers and other editorial resources’ was a common example provided by a number of respondents.

Responses to the survey pointed towards a desire for increased openness and accountability about sharing experiences at Production companies and with Broadcasters. 79.6% of respondents favoured the creation of a Glassdoor / TrustPilot-style index allowing verified freelancers to rate their experiences working with Production Companies and specific Broadcasters, aimed at helping freelancers make better informed decisions about future engagements.

Production is Broken says it will be “opening conversations with leading broadcasters to discuss their future intentions for improving the standards of pay in Production Management roles on their commissions, and sharing their responses with the wider industry via the Production is Broken page.”

It will also be “seeking commitments in writing from mid-size to large indies that they will move towards submitting budgets that include increases to Production Management rates” and will be “pushing for an agreed industry standard for what should be deemed as the base level requirement for Production Management staffing on a production, to avoid the imprudent removal of Production Manager or Coordinator roles, as a “quick fix” to get budgets reduced for broadcaster approval. Furthermore, we will be seeking increased transparency about production management welfare, pay and experiences with production companies and broadcasters.”

Further information and the full report will be available at www.productionisbroken.co.uk when the website goes live

Jon Creamer

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