BBC, ITV, C4, C5 and S4C call for measures to “protect long term health of the UK creative industries”
The PSBs have joined forces to urge the government to support the UK’s “critically important TV freelance community”.
A letter was sent this afternoon to chancellor Rishi Sunak signed by BBC director general Tony Hall, ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall, Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon, Channel 5-owner ViacomCBS president, UK and Australia Maria Kyriacou and S4C chief executive Owen Evans.
In it, the six broadcaster chiefs implored Sunak to “identify a package of measures that would provide for a level of income protection” to the TV sector’s thousands of freelancers.
It identified that 50% of those creative workers in film and TV working on screen production are freelancers, adding: “The global success and reputation of the UK creative industries depends on them”.
“The very nature of the freelance community is that they do not have a single anchor employer; they work for the industry as a whole across TV and film, which makes them particularly vulnerable in current circumstances and therefore worthy of government support,” said the letter, which copied in culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
The PSB’s proposal for freelancers to be given income protection to bring them in line with the employed has been pushed consistently by trade bodies over the past week or so.
This led to a tabled amendment to the coronavirus bill yesterday from the Liberal Democrats, which would mean freelancers and the self-employed are given 80% of their monthly earnings from the past three years or £2,917 per month, whichever is lower.
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Sunak said this could “prove problematic” as the situation regarding the UK’s 5 million self-employed workers is so varied.
It is understood he will reveal more in tomorrow’s daily coronavirus press briefing.
Sunak has already unveiled an “unprecedented” economic package for employees, which will pay out 80% of a worker’s salary for at least the next three months, back-dated to 1 March.
The letter in full
We are writing to you as the UK’s Public Service Broadcasters, to ask you to support the critically important freelance community of the UK creatives industries.
As you will know, the UK creative industries now contribute over £100bn to the UK economy. The UK film and television production sectors are a vital and growing area of the UK (growing at five times the rate of the UK economy as a whole). Of the creative workers in film and TV, 50% of those engaged in screen production are freelancers, so it is true to say that the global success and reputation of the UK creative industries depends on them.
The very nature of the freelance community is that they do not have a single anchor employer; they work for the industry as a whole across TV and film, which makes them particularly vulnerable in current circumstances and therefore worthy of government support. We are aware of the communication that you have received from various trade bodies and unions representing the freelance sector in the UK creatives industries and we would also urge the Government to take measures to protect the long term health of the UK creative industries, by providing a package of support to freelancers.
We are willing to engage with the Government to help you identify a package of measures that would provide for a level of income protection and access to statutory sick pay for the freelance community in our industry as a matter of urgency.
We are copying the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP.
The Public Service Broadcasters look forward to working with you on this vital issue.
Tony Hall (Director-General, BBC)
Carolyn McCall (CEO, ITV)
Alex Mahon (CEO, Channel 4)
Maria Kyriacou (President, UK and Australia, Viacom CBS Networks International)
Owen Evans (CEO, S4C)