It has been announce today that key figures from major broadcasters, streaming services and unions in the UK TV industry have united to launch a new landmark Freelance Charter, which aims to improve the working life of freelancers across the television community and address the working practices and culture of people across the industry.
The Charter is a result of the the pan-industry working group Coalition for Change – founded and chaired by TV freelancer and founder of The TV Mindset, Adeel Amini – which held quarterly discussions on the matter between key stakeholders such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5/ViacomCBS, Sky, UKTV, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Pact, Bectu, and ScreenSkills.
Richard Watsham, director of commissioning UKTV, and Zai Bennett, managing director, content, Sky UK and Ireland, led the work on the Charter, with input from around a hundred stakeholders from in and around the broadcast industry.
Importantly, the Charter “marks the first time in the sector’s history that industry bodies have come together to acknowledge its working practices and formally agree pledges to improve conditions”, and offers industry-wide guidance on issues such as recruitment and development, workplace culture, bullying, harassment, commissioner conduct, and training opportunities.
“The Freelance Charter is a result of a huge collective effort across the industry to tackle some of the issues faced by our freelance workforce, and it’s encouraging that all involved have embraced both the opportunity and responsibility that we have to make things better for everyone,” said Zai Bennett. “As a living document, the Charter gives us all a useful framework to hold ourselves and others accountable, and it is an important first step in working together to improve conditions and create a culture of mutual respect and support.”
Treated as a “living document” will mean that the Charter will be subject to annual reviews with coalition members taking on board feedback to constantly improve and assess its impact. In the first year there will be two reviews, in January and August 2022 with aims to widen the scope of the Charter even further, with further reviews will take place on an annual basis.
UKTV’s Richard Watsham, added, “There is extraordinary expertise in our industry but hearing stories daily of people leaving because of working conditions is deeply worrying. There is no doubt that change is urgent and it has been enormously heartening to see so many people come together, and to approach it with openness, compromise, and flexibility,” he explained.
“We have only just started on the road to a better working environment and we need to keep up the momentum, engaging many more voices and opinions. We believe that improving wellbeing will not only safeguard our talent but will deliver even greater creative success. We’d like to appeal now for all organisations to sign up to the first version of the Charter.”
Coalition founder Adeel Amini, said that the The Freelance Charter “marks a huge step forward for our industry in acknowledging and tackling the issues faced by its workforce”. He explained, “When we launched the Coalition we stated its aims as three-fold: to professionalise the industry, invest in its talent, and create an ecosystem of respect. While there’s still room for more to be added to the Charter, I’m confident that this is the first positive leap in creating a healthier and happier industry for us all and I am exceptionally grateful to all Coalition members for coming together and showing the good this industry can do when it unites as one.”
The full list of organisations to have signed the Charter are as follows: Amazon Prime Video; BAFTA; BBC; BECTU; BFI; Channel 4; Channel 5/ ViacomCBS; Deaf and Disabled People in TV; Directors UK; Mama Youth; Sara Putt Associates; ScreenSkills; Sky Content; Share My Telly Job; STV Group plc; Telly Mums Network; The Film & TV Charity; The TV Collective; The TV Mindset; The Unit List; UKTV; Viva La PD; Women in Film and TV.