Times Up UK chair Heather Rabbatts discusses the progress made and setting up the Independent Standards Authority

Times Up UK chair Dame Heather Rabbatts has called for collective action to shift the cultural practices that continue to perpetuate sexual harassment and bullying in TV.

Speaking on Broadcast’s Behind the Screens podcast, Rabbatts said that the industry still has “a distance to go” when it comes to enacting change.

“This is an industry where the ‘casting couch’ was part of its DNA,” she said. “It’s going to take many years for us to move away from what has been a historic way of treating talent on every level.”

The charity organisation Times Up UK was set up in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations in 2017, which ignited the #MeToo movement. Originally coined by activist Tamara Burke in 2006, the MeToo movement went viral in 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano encouraged other victims of sexual harassment to come forward.

“Sadly there’s still a huge amount of fear about reporting. While there’s good practice on productions, people often wait until a production has finished before they report,” she added.

The current lack of resource to report harassment after a production has wrapped has spurned Times Up UK to work with Creative UK to create the upcoming Independent Standards Authority.

“There was increased recognition of ongoing fear and under-reporting,” she explained. “It will have three clear roles - to be a source of confidential advice, mediation and investigation.”

During the podcast, Rabbatts also spoke about the misuse of NDAs, what victims of harassment in the industry can do and ultimately offered an optimistic outlook for the future.

“It’s how you take down structures, as [political activist] Angela Davies said in terms of institutional racism, you do it brick by brick,” she said.

“Five years ago, who would have thought that someone as powerful as Harvey Weinstein would be taken down? No-one thought it would happen but it did.”

Rabbatts had previously been involved in the campaign to kick racism from football, citing the change that has occurred in the past thirty years.

“There was racial abuse in virtually in every stand. It still happens, but I go to football matches now and you very rarely hear it. Creating cultural shifts is about people raising their voices.”

You can listen to the full podcast below, or search for Broadcast Behind The Screens on all major podcast platforms.

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