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Bectu, EPC urge governments to safeguard industry workers

Organisations raise concerns over impact of coronavirus on film and TV sector

Bectu is urging the government to do more to protect the income of those whose livelihoods are threatened by coronavirus.

General secretary of Prospect, Mike Clancy, has written to the chancellor asking for more to be done to “recognise and alleviate the situation of freelance and self-employed workers.”

“Freelance workers are in a particularly vulnerable situation during this pandemic,” Clancy said. “Many of them work in ways that mean that even small disruptions to their working patterns can cause real financial hardship. In addition they may have just faced a tax bill that will have reduced their ability to manage a period without work.

“My concern is not just for workers who have to self-isolate or who fall sick, but for those who face a more protracted period out of work due to the cancellation of productions or the closure of venues,” he added. “Universal Credit is a system which time and time again has been proven to be completely unable to cope with any form of change in demand. Asking these workers to rely on Universal Credit or indeed ESA is simply inadequate.”

Meanwhile, European Producers Club (EPC) has proposed 10 measures to temper the impact of the coronavirus on the film and TV industry.

“Hundreds of finished European films and series are facing release cancellations or release delays, despite already having incurred considerable expenditures on these releases,” the EPC said in a statement.

It proposed the following:

  • Set up a European and state scheme to compensate all stakeholders of impacted releases

  • Enhance the release of films through online platforms allowing for fair economic compensation to the producers and distributors of the film

  • Establish emergency funds and free interest loans to cover the costs of the payment of freelance personnel, cast, crew and suppliers

  • Provide state guarantees for insurance companies to cash back insurance claims due to suspension of production

  • Ensure financiers, broadcasters and platforms shall release producers from contractual deadlines and extend the validity of their financing decisions until the suspension period is over

  • Guarantee that authorities shall delay tax, social security and other direct or indirect taxes both related to the shooting and to the production company

  • Organise public funding systems to maintain business as usual, without interruption, online if needed

  • Encourage both public and commercial broadcasters and OTT platforms to continue and increase development activities in solidarity with the industry

  • Stimulate valuable content productions (positive, educational, health, optimistic) in commensurate variety to help audiences cope with confinement and stress

  • Promote the acquisition by broadcasters and platforms of library productions of all European producers with a fair economic compensation to fill the gaps that the lockdown will generate