Major broadcasters, streaming services and unions in the British TV industry released a document on Wednesday (Aug. 25), The Freelance Charter, to improve working practices in the industry.
The charter was unveiled in a session at the Edinburgh TV Festival. The document comes from the pan-industry working group Coalition for Change, which is chaired by TV freelancer Adeel Amini, and is the result of quarterly discussions between stakeholders including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5/ViacomCBS, Sky, UKTV, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Pact, Bectu and ScreenSkills.
The charter’s aim is to improve the working life of freelancers across the TV industry. It offers industry-wide guidance on issues like recruitment and development, workplace culture, bullying, harassment, commissioner conduct and training opportunities.
Richard Watsham (pictured, left), UKTV’s director of commissioning, and Zai Bennett (right), Sky UK and Ireland’s managing director, led work on the charter. It was created with input from around 100 people representing broadcasters, freelancers and other training bodies, professional associations and charities in the industry.
“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,” Bennett said in a news release.
“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.”
The charter is being seen by its creators as a living document that will undergo annual reviews and board feedback to improve and assess its impact. There will be two reviews in its first year, in January and August, 2022, with hopes to widen the charter’s scope further in the future.
The coalition will work with industry publication Broadcast to run, publicize and analyze an annual survey of the industry’s freelance community to find where progress is being made, where there’s further work to do and raise any new areas of concern.
“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,” Watsham said in a release.
“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.”